Ongoing political struggle as residents flee to citizens to escape wear and tear homeowners insurance premiums

Historic City News founder Michael Gold received bad news in his mailbox this week, and he finds out he’s just one of many local homeowners facing soaring home insurance premiums This year. Ancient City Insurance’s personal lines manager had previously warned that ‘there was a significant increase in premium’ being charged by Gainesville-based Tower Hill Insurance Company. The annual premium under the old policy was approximately $1,200, however, under another program renewal through Tower Hill, this year’s coverage would be almost $2,500 if it was accepted.

Customers looking for lower premiums are flocking to Citizens Property Insurance, the state-backed insurance of last resort originally intended for homeowners threatened with cancellation by insurers who disliked hurricane exposure and other losses in Florida.

“Your account manager will purchase your policy from our other competing companies closer to the effective date and contact you,” Jennifer wrote, explaining the next steps in the process of finding affordable coverage. But with thousands of real estate owners like Gold on the market to buy, those focused on citizens have created a crisis leading to a political battle in Tallahassee.

What’s the problem? Insurers across Florida say they face a tough financial situation, with steady losses across the market. This leads to companies abandoning customers and raising rates – leading to owners switching to the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. This increase in policyholders is problematic because it puts the state at financial risk the next time Florida is hit by a major hurricane.

What is the solution ? Lawmakers say they are considering a few ideas. A big one: Since insurance officials say roof damage claims play a key role in driving up premiums, a bill in the Senate would allow insurers to sell stripped-down policies that don’t replace roofs. more than 10 years unless they’re damaged in named hurricanes.

  • To deal directly with the influx of customers to citizens, the legislator is also considering limiting who can go to what is supposed to be the insurer of last resort. Under the Senate bill, customers would not be eligible for renewal with Citizens unless private insurers’ premiums were more than 20% higher than what Citizens would charge. The House version has the same threshold but spreads it over four years.

Didn’t we just fix this problem? Last session, lawmakers passed a bill that would limit how roofing contractors could solicit clients, with the insurance industry saying contractors are using hurricanes as an excuse to convince homeowners to get new roofs. A judge rejected the restrictions, saying they were unconstitutional.

And the political struggle? Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes said Gov. Ron DeSantis, CFO Jimmy Patronis and House Republicans are ignoring the crisis. Senate Speaker Wilton Simpson said his chamber continues to make the state property insurance market a priority and the House needs to step up its efforts.

More on this controversy to come as lawmakers already pass the “halfway point” in this election session.

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