The Weekly: Here’s what’s causing Florida’s homeowners insurance crisis

News 6 anchor Justin Warmoth hears from owner of Hugh Cotton Insurance

ORLANDO, Fla. – When Florida lawmakers left Tallahassee a few weeks ago following the annual legislative session, they failed to address the major insurance crisis impacting homeowners across the state.

Florida homeowners are seeing their premiums jump — sometimes by more than triple — or their policies are getting dropped all together.

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Tom Cotton, owner of Hugh Cotton Insurance in Orlando, told News 6 anchor Justin Warmoth on “The Weekly” that the crisis is a culmination of issues that haven’t been fixed over several years, but litigation is the main ingredient.

“In the last two years, homeowners carriers doing business in the state of Florida have had $3.5 billion in claims paid, and that is without there being a major storm across the coastline,” Cotton said. “In 2021, there were 117,000 property claims filed for litigation. In the other 49 states there were 900. Litigation is what’s driving this.”

After failing to pass any legislation during the state’s regular session, there were calls for lawmakers to reconvene in Tallahassee for special session aimed at reforming the state’s insurance industry, but that likely won’t happen until later this year.

Cotton says the key point to fixing the crisis: making roofs cash value.

“People are treating their homeowners policy as a warranty policy for a roof,” Cotton said. “Right now, if you have damage to a roof and it’s five years old, you get a new roof. If your roof is 25 years old and gets damaged, you get a brand-new roof.”

Many were calling on the state to pass new legislation before hurricane season, which starts June 1.

In the meantime, Cotton has some advice for anyone concerned with their premiums spiking in price.

“When someone calls our office and says they got a renewal that went from $2,800 to $4,200, we say, ‘Stop right there. You got a renewal? Count yourself lucky, pay the bill,’” Cotton said. “If you can’t afford the increase, can you afford to replace your air conditioner or your roof? Because that’s what you’re going to have to do for me to get you a quote.”

Watch the full interview in the video player above.


About the Author:

Justin Warmoth joined News 6 in February 2013 as our Brevard County reporter. In March of 2016, after anchoring the weekend mornings since August of 2015, Justin was promoted to weekday morning anchor. You can catch him Monday through Friday mornings from 5-7 a.m. and at noon.