Mixed reviews on new Florida property insurance bill

Senator G. Richter
Senator G. Richter

Many homeowners who live in Florida may not be so excited about Florida Lawmakers passing Senate Bill 408.  The bill is sponsored by Senator G. Richter, and is one of several, aimed at knocking down the “cost drivers” that are causing insurance rates to skyrocket. The bill focuses on creating more competition in the private marketplace and cutting down on fraudulent sinkhole claims.

Earlier last month during a Capitol press conference, two local representatives spoke out against SB Bill 408.  One of the lawmakers opposing the bill went against his own party line. One stated that the bill contained some of the most anti-consumer laws he had ever seen filed in his 17 years of service. 

They also stated that if SB 408 was passed, homeowners could expect more problems filing claims, shorter time to file claims, higher rates, and more restrictions to get into and stay in, the state ran insurance program. One of the lawmakers stated bill 408 attacked almost every consumer protection law that exists.

Supporters of the bill claim it will help to restore the market, and maybe reduce the rates. The bill frees insurers from having to offer sinkhole protection, and if they chose to offer the coverage, it will cost the homeowner an addition to their premium and possibly restrict the property coverage areas.

The bill will also redefine “sinkhole damage” saying it includes foundation damage, outside of building code variances.  It gives the investigating agent’s data more weight than engineer’s reports in the case of a conflict regarding the sinkhole situation.

The bill will also reform Citizens Property Insurance, making it what it was initially intended for; as an insurer of last resort for homeowners. Currently, if a homeowner gets a quote from an insurer that is higher than 15 percent of Citizen’s rate, the homeowner can go with Citizens Insurance. The bill will raise that difference to 25 percent.

Supporters of the bill believe this is the first step in reducing the major cost drivers of insurance rates and feel it will create more competition in the private markets.

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