TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As property insurance prices continue spiraling in Florida, people aren’t just at risk of losing their coverage. Seniors on a fixed income tell 8 On Your Side the rising rates could actually cost them their homes.
If you’re a homeowner, your options for insurance are shrinking by the day. Two more companies here in Florida have folded in the past few weeks.
As the market gets smaller, the remaining insurers are increasing rates. Some rates have doubled in a single year.
“When I opened that up, I almost cried, my stomach was in knots,” said Tad Buel of Tampa.
Buel’s property insurance is increasing nearly 100% compared to last year.
The property insurance market is in crisis but lawmakers ended the regular session without passing any reforms. Now, no one will take the lead to assemble a special session for a fix: Not Gov. Ron DeSantis, Senate President Wilton Simpson, nor Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Chris Sprowls.
“I have been on disability since 2004,” Buel explained. “I don’t know where or what else I can cut out of my lifestyle.”
Robert Lust, 66, doesn’t know when he can afford to retire. The Pasco County resident is also seeing his property insurance spike.
“I’m in business, I can’t raise my prices 60% to my customers,” he said. “And when I started shopping for quotes, I was pretty much told to stay where I’m at.”
So can you lower your premium? Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate Tasha Carter says yes.
“Take advantage of all of the discounts that the insurance company offers,” Carter said.
First, install wind mitigation features on your roof, garage and windows. Next, be sure to get credit for having items such as a security system, smoke detector or generator.
Finally, conduct a survey of your personal property and review your coverage.
“Sometimes consumers may be paying for coverages that they do not need,” Carter explained.
Buel says all he needs is to keep the roof over his head. He hopes lawmakers head back to Tallahassee and find a fix.
“If you only knew – excuse me – I almost kiss the floor every time I walk in that door because that street, right there, I will not survive,” he said.
A lot of homeowners are now turning to Citizens Insurance. The state-backed company is meant to be a last-resort option but it’s becoming the only resort for many. In two years, it’s gone from 480,000 policies to more than 800,000.
The state does have a rate comparison tool to help you find the best coverage.
In the meantime, consider calling your lawmaker if you’d like them to hold a special session to address the property insurance crisis.
If your policy was dropped or your rates suddenly increased, please email Investigator Mahsa Saeidi at MSaeidi@WFLA.com
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