TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s a crisis threatening homeowners across Florida: Insurance rates are skyrocketing and policies are being dropped. So what is the state doing to protect you and your home?
Right now, there are calls for a special session to tackle the problem that elected leaders failed to address in the 2022 legislative session.
The problem is so bad that six insurance companies have already dropped out of the market in Florida this year. One Tampa Bay area lawmaker says more could soon follow and it’s the homeowners who will pay the price.
“People are opening their reinsurance bills, their renewal bills, right now and seeing that their rates have gone up sometimes 30, sometimes 100%,” State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, said.
Sen. Brandes says his constituents and other homeowners across the state are paying between 15 to 100 percent more for property insurance. The spike is largely driven by litigation.
Last year in Florida, over 100,000 lawsuits were filed against home insurance companies. The average in other states is a fraction of that, approximately 1,000 lawsuits.
So why does Florida have so much more litigation?
“It’s a combination of bad law, bad court cases and a hyperactive trial bar,” Sen. Brandes explained.
Sen. Brandes says the problem is a group of attorneys and contractors.
They knock on doors and offer free roofs. Then they take control of the claims process, spike the price and sue the insurance company.
The companies, paying millions in legal fees, pass the cost down to homeowners by increasing rates.
“It’s one reason so many insurance companies are pulling out of the state,” he said.
Sen. Brandes says four property insurance bills were introduced this session to address this crisis. Each one failed. So he’s calling for Gov. Ron DeSantis to force legislators back to Tallahassee to work on insurance reform.
“I think it’s imperative that the governor call a special session,” Sen. Brandes said.
Sen. Brandes says the governor can use his power to veto issues in the budget to bring lawmakers to the table.
8 On Your Side contacted the governor’s staff late Friday afternoon to find out if he would do that. We did not get a response by airtime.
“If I was advising the governor, I would say, ‘listen if you don’t call a special session on this, you’re going to begin to own some of these rate increases,'” Sen. Brandes said.
If your policy was dropped or your rates suddenly increased, please email Investigator Mahsa Saeidi at MSaeidi@WFLA.com
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