TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Nearly 80,000 Floridians are scrambling to find new property insurance in the midst of hurricane season.
Their insurance company, Southern Fidelity, has gone out of business leaving policyholders with questions and concerns.
8 On Your Side is getting answers for one family.
This couple is on a fixed income.
Not only do they have approximately 10 days to find new property insurance, they also have to figure out how to pay for it.
“We’ve been here 26 years and we really, we really love our house,” Bari Reali said.
The plan was to stay in this Bradenton home forever. Now, the Reali’s don’t know if they can afford it.
“Spent a lot of time in this house, building and stuff and it hurts to let it go, if I have to,” Vince Reali said.
“It’s just really stressful,” Bari added.
On Friday, Bari got a notice from Southern Fidelity stating it went bankrupt, thus, all policies will be canceled effective July 15.
“It was quite a shock,” Bari said. “Because it was hard enough to get the money to start with.”
The Reali’s had just renewed their annual homeowner’s policy less than three months ago. Their premium had doubled. To pay for it, the couple said they were forced to cash in their life insurance policies.
“Would’ve taken care of either one of us fairly well. If something happened to the other one,” Bari said. “It was very difficult.”
The Reali’s are scrambling to find new property insurance but they’re also out of cash. To pay for their new insurance, they say they need Southern Fidelity to issue a refund.
They called 8 On Your Side to find out if and when that’ll happen.
The Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) handles cases of bankrupt insurers. On its website, FIGA stated it “expects” to issue payments “within 45 to 60 days” from Southern Fidelity’s liquidation date. That means the Reali’s could be waiting until August 15th, or even longer, to get a check.
“They gave us the shaft ..really,” Vince said.
“This is happening all over the place and no one seems to do anything about it,” said Bari.
This couple will have to pay out of pocket for a new policy. Again, they don’t know how they’re going to do that.
8 On Your Side is in the process of reaching out to various officials to see if anything can be done for people in this situation.
If you have a story to share, email investigator Mahsa Saeidi at MSaeidi@WFLA.com.