TAMPA, Fla. - More Floridians are getting notices that they’re being dropped from their current property insurance companies. It’s part of the crisis state lawmakers are hoping to solve during a one-week special session next month.
Governor Ron DeSantis called for a special session starting May 23, and what will go up for a vote is already in the works.
"Right now, we know the governor's team, the House and Senate, are negotiating on a piece of legislation. It's in early draft form, but they've been working on it for weeks, from what I've heard," said State Senator Jeff Brandes, R-Pinellas County. "I think you're going to see some building code changes. I think you're going to see some CAT (catastrophic) fund reform, a significant reform in the property insurance space to allow basically people to price their policies to their pocketbook, which I think is incredibly important, offering more flexibility for both carriers and for consumers."
Legislators for Tampa Bay said it’s critical they get it right to help homeowners on many levels. Options are getting slimmer as more companies leave Florida due to higher risks and fraud lawsuits.
"Florida just represents eight percent of total U.S. property claims, but we're almost 80 percent of the litigation that happens in the country on property insurance. That is makes us an outlier that's just incredible. We've got to resolve that issue," said Brandes.
Some homeowners are getting notices their rates have gone up hundreds of dollars, and they are letting lawmakers know it.
"People are frantic about what they’re going to be able to do because they’re on fixed incomes, and their homeowners insurance rates are rising maybe by 40 or 50 percent," said State Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, who said they get regular calls from residents about the crisis.
Other homeowners are getting dropped from their current policy and told to find another option.
"I’m dealing with that myself. I got my letter in an email today just recently, so I think people are frantic. Are they going to lose their home if they don’t have it covered? Is Citizens going to be enough coverage for them?" said Toledo.
Lawmakers will only have five days to get things done compared to their usual timeline.
"We usually have nine weeks of sessions. We have committee weeks, so 16 weeks to present an idea, vet it, have the public input, and be able to have numbers generated," said Toledo.
She added that she expects a bill that will be a compromise for homeowners and insurance companies. The pressure is on as Florida heads into choppy water this summer.
"Hurricane season starts June 1. This is incredibly important. If we do not resolve this issue and if we don't pass piece of legislation, I think you're going to see a number of other insurance companies withdraw, withdraw from the market or fail," said Brandes.
The bill is still a work in progress until it goes up in the special session. Then lawmakers will decide what to change. Tampa Bay lawmakers said there needs to be more choices to drive prices down, and they encourage homeowners to write, email or call in to share what they’re dealing with for coverage options.