TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The special legislative session to fix the state’s property insurance crisis is now underway. So, when will the proposed changes impact homeowners – and how?
Insurance experts say if these changes become law, it’ll be the most significant reform in years. However, it’s unlikely your premium will go down anytime soon.
Month after month, Floridians have seen their property insurance premiums increase. Insurance companies say it’s necessary due to excessive litigation. Instead of being able to pay out claims, insurers say they’re getting sued and having to spend thousands in court.
On top of that, the cost of reinsurance, insurance for insurance companies, is rising.
Monday marked day one of the special session in Tallahassee. House and Senate leadership released two nearly identical bills. So, what’s the plan to fix the crisis?
Lawmakers are making it less attractive to sue insurers. Under current law, if you sue your insurance company and win, the company has to pay your attorney’s fees. The new proposal would end that practice.
Additionally, the so-called “Assignment of Benefits” (AOB) would be banned too. AOB is when homeowners sign over benefits to contractors. Then, the contractors then file claims with insurers.
Under the new proposals, policyholders will also have to file claims sooner. You’ll have one year, instead of two. Insurance companies will have to respond faster to claims as well.
Richie Kidwell with the Restoration Association of Florida says roofers are the ones fighting for consumers.
“It’s the second bite at the apple for the insurance lobby to get exactly what they want,” Kidwell said. “We’re here to reduce premiums and that’s not what’s happening. It’s just giving more favor to the insurance companies.”
Jeff Brandes, a former State Senator in Pinellas County said he believes the changes, if they become reality, will help stabilize the market.
“Florida can’t be the most hurricane-prone state and the most litigious state and expect that property insurance rates will go down,” Brandes said. “They have to address litigation.”
Brokers claim if these changes become reality, the market will stabilize, and your rates will go down in the next 18 to 24 months.
If you have concerns about the market, email Investigator Mahsa Saeidi at MSaeidi@WFLA.com.