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  • Writer's pictureFrank Landrian

The Struggle to Fix Florida’s Insurance Crisis By KIMBERLY LEONARD 10/30/2023 06:57 AM EDT.

Good morning and welcome to Monday.

The Legislature’s special session is a week from today, and one issue that isn’t going away is the high prices Floridians pay to insure their homes against hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Lawmakers aren’t planning on dealing with property insurance reform directly during the Nov. 6-9 special session — but they do want to help Floridians with high costs. Often, insurers will charge higher premiums or won’t agree to take on some customers until they first pay tens of thousands of dollars to replace their doors and windows to make their homes more wind-resistant.

Legislators will consider replenishing the My Safe Florida Home Program, which gives Floridians grants of up to $10,000 to help them pay for changes to their homes. Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis told WJHG on Sunday that he’d like to see up to $175 million added.

Even that much money would likely go fast, especially in a state that’s home to more than 22 million people. This year’s fund totaled $215 million, and it accepted about 21,000 refund applications. But another 17,000 are still waiting until more funding is added, and no one else can submit an application in the meantime.

Also, analysts admit they don’t have a good sense of when property insurance prices will go down, citing the high cost of reinsurance and the likelihood of more severe storms ahead. They’d previously projected the reforms legislators passed this year — including a law making it harder for people to sue their insurers — would take 18 months to show results.

While a couple of new companies have entered the market, others have left or scaled back. Families are paying an average of $6,000 a year for coverage on top of their mortgages and utilities, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Many who’ve already paid off their mortgages are choosing to gamble their homes and forego coverage.

The Legislature already has tried to tackle the property insurance issue at least four different times since 2021 during special and regular sessions.

“I understand the frustration, I share it, and I am always talking with stakeholders and trying to find new solutions,” Senate President Kathleen Passidomo said in a memo previewing the special session. Her memo also promised to send funding and tax relief to families in the Big Bend area and to agricultural companies hurt by Hurricane Idalia.

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