Florida holds special session on property insurance. Here’s what you need to know

Rates likely won’t decrease immediately, lawmaker says

Next week, Florida’s legislature will have a special session to deal with the state’s ongoing property insurance crisis.

Many Floridians are still struggling to find and keep affordable insurance.

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News 6 spoke with lawmakers about what consumers can expect.

First, lawmakers could not agree on property insurance reform during the regular 60-day session between January through March.

Now they are trying to get something done in one week.

At least one lawmaker warned people should not expect a miracle, but many consumers like Pamela Kelley are hoping for relief.

When Kelley got a non-renewal notice from her insurer, she was forced to shop around for new property insurance for her Marion County home.

“Because I didn’t have a new roof, they terminated my insurance,” Kelley said.

She ended up with a policy that was more than double what she had been paying, according to Kelley.

“When they told me what the new rate was going to be, I almost fell off the chair,” Kelley said. “I was like are you kidding me?”

Kelley is one of the millions of Floridians watching rates rise and wondering if lawmakers will pass legislation to offer some relief.

News 6 caught up with State Rep. Randy Fine, R-Brevard County, at a town hall meeting about property insurance.

“What happens with the special session is they negotiate in advance,” Fine said.

“So a bill will be presented before the special session that a lot of work has gone into,” Fine said. “I think there’s a wide variety of solutions.”

“I mean we’ve got to do things that deal with lawyer’s fees, we’ve got to do things that deal with fraudulent claims and we’ve got to make sure that people do get their legitimate claims paid,” Fine added.

Many insurers claim the rising rates consumers are seeing are caused by excessive litigation and fraudulent claims, mainly from roof replacements. Some Republicans said we could see a similar version of Senate Bill 1728, which the governor supported, but died during the regular session.

It would authorize insurers to limit roof claim payments to the actual cash value of the roof under certain circumstances.

It also aimed to limit who could be covered by Citizens Insurance, the state-backed insurer of last resort.

State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, already has concerns.

“I’m very concerned that the solutions before us are going to be anti-consumer, and not actually holding insurance companies accountable,” Eskamai said. “There’s just no simple answer, and I am worried that in the time frame we have, we won’t find those solutions.”

That’s the one thing they both agree on. Consumers should minimize expectations of what the special session will accomplish.

“I think people need to be cognizant,” Fine said. “I don’t know that we can vote on something in May and then your rates go down in June.”

The special session is scheduled to last no longer than next Friday.


About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning reporter Louis Bolden joined the News 6 team in September of 2001 and hasn't gotten a moment's rest since. Louis has been a General Assignment Reporter for News 6 and Weekend Morning Anchor. He joined the Special Projects/Investigative Unit in 2014.