Insurance Rates Increase

Since the last hurricane hit Florida, homeowner’s rates have gone up by just under 10%. For condo owners it is 21%.

Ratings expert John Rollins says hurricanes aren’t the only driver of higher costs.

“Fire, water damage, vandalism, theft, smoke, explosions, these things we think of as common perils, said Rollins.

Thursday morning, just days before the start of hurricane season, one of Florida’s largest insurance companies, Fidelity Property and Casualty was asking for a 28% rate.

Deputy Insurance Commissioner Belinda Miller says setting rates is a delicate balancing act.

“We need capacity in a way that treats consumers fairly and that results in them having insurance on their property when they have a claim and need it,” said Miller.

Fidelity wouldn’t talk with us on camera, but they said the reason they are looking for a pay increase to be profitable so they can pay out claims after the next storm hits but Florida’s Consumer Advocate says what you pay is often driven by people scamming the system.

“Many consumers get caught in the middle of people making repairs and for the bill being more than what the insurance company thought it should have been,” said Robin Westcott.

The economy is also a factor.

“There’s an age old adage that says: ‘once the economy goes sour, insurance claims go up. It’s almost a direct correlation,” said Lisa Miller.

Legislation signed by Governor Rick Scott this week creates a clearing house to help consumers find cheaper rates, but hurricane season will likely be over before the clearinghouse is up and running.

Fidelity has just over 12,000 customers statewide.

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