Fla. homeowners need legislative help to afford flood insurance - WFLA News Channel 8

Fla. homeowners need legislative help to afford flood insurance

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NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - Angela Leonardo and her husband pay about $1,100 a year for flood insurance on their New Port Richey home. But starting next month, that rate will skyrocket to $8,000.

"I was devastated," she said.

That means their mortgage would go up by $700 a month, leaving them no option but to sell the home they love, or let in go in foreclosure.

"They're going to force us out of our home," she said. "We had planned to be here forever."

Related content:  more stories about Florida flood insurance hikes

The Leonardos are among thousands facing dramatic increases. A federal subsidy that kept rates affordable for those in flood zones, expired oct. 1, leading to unbelievable rate hikes.

Florida legislators took its first step this week to allow private companies to offer alternatives to the flood insurance now available only through the federal government. A bill passed through the Senate committee.

One private company, Tampa-based Homeowner's Choice, has already been approved to write flood policies for current customers. CEO Paresh Patel says they'll keep homeowner's rates exactly the same as they are now.

"We did this because we are Floridians and there are Floridians that need help and it was the right thing to do. We're offering an alternative if you find yourself in a point of crisis.

If the legislation passes, other private companies could follow suit, and that may be the only way leonardo can stay in her home.

"I want it be more affordable and a reasonable rate so that we could stay here. we want our home, we love this home. we've found our church. we have friends here, finally, and we don't want to move."

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