TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The My Safe Florida Home or MSFH program is popular.
State money is provided to Florida homeowners to help them stormproof their homes with a goal of reducing damage, claims, and premiums. But is there any proof that it works? And if it does, why can’t new applicants sign up for the program?
For years, 8 On Your Side has exposed the crushing cost of insurance in Florida. Lawmakers make reforms but families never see relief. Rates just go one way, up.
Earlier this year, we spoke with Beth Moran, a homeowner concerned about insurance.
“I think it’s important to bring this to the attention of the powers that be,” she said.
Investigator Mahsa Saeidi has been following Florida’s special legislative session. The session, which focuses on support for Israel, has brought good news about property insurance as well.
Our 8 On Your Side report from Monday made mention of companion bills, S.B. 2-C and H.B. 1-C, which are currently moving along in the Florida House and Senate. The bills propose increasing disaster funding and decreasing property and sales taxes.
“I think we get a lot of people complaining that we’re not doing enough but this is actually working,” said State Sen. Linda Stewart, a Democrat from Orange County.
Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer is in charge of administering the MSFH program.
“It’s less of a risk, less likely we’ll be paying a claim,” he told lawmakers Monday.
CFO Patronis said the MSFH program lowers rates on average, by $1,000 a year. If you qualify, the state helps foot the bill to upgrade your windows, doors, and roof.
After our report, we started getting emails from homeowners, desperate for savings too. They wanted to sign up for the MSFH program but as of now, they can’t.
If you go to the website, it says they are “not accepting new applications.”
In fact, more than 17,600 policyholders are already on a waitlist for the program.
Lawmakers say they’ll approve $176 million to clear the backlog, but for now, they’re not allocating any more money than that.
That means new homeowners cannot sign up and it’s pretty much guarantees that they’ll see no rate relief.
After the session Tuesday, Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Paul Renner took questions from reporters.
“Again special sessions are limited in focus,” said Speaker Renner.
“Why not open it up to condo owners given how great it is?” asked one reporter.
“We may,” he said.
Other reporters questioned why more money wasn’t being allocated to the MSFH program.
“Why aren’t you spending every single dollar possible into this program, if it’s indeed saving people a thousand dollars on their premium?” one asked.
“I agree with you that we should look at and we will look in the regular session at what else can we do in the hardening area. I think this is a really really important area,” Speaker Renner responded.
The Office of the Florida Senate President and the CFO tell 8 On Your Side they support the expansion of this program. Discussions will continue during the regular session in January.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has supported the MSFH program in the past. He’s expected to sign the legislation once it reaches his desk.
Question or tip? Email Mahsa at MSaeidi@WFLA.com