Florida property owners facing homeowner insurance 'crisis,' lawmaker says

It is getting harder and more expensive for property owners to insure their homes here in Florida, especially if your house is over 20-years-old. One state lawmaker says if the issues in the industry are not fixed, we could see serious consequences.

For years, Senator Jeff Brandes has been sounding the alarm about Florida’s turbulent property insurance market. He says we are in a crisis, and in a few years, people will be paying more for homeowners insurance than their mortgage

"The simple truth is property insurance rates are going up about 30% a year. The industry as a whole lost $1.6 billion in 2020, will lose probably that much in 2021. And that means higher rates for Floridians unless the legislature steps in and fixes the problems that are going on in the industry," Brandes said.

Companies are dropping policies, suspending new businesses in the state, limiting the types or ages of homes they cover, requesting massive rate increases, and going out of business.  

Brandes says it is largely driven by the excess insurance litigation in the state.

"Florida had over 95,000 lawsuits last year related to property insurance. Just for some context, most other states had less than 1,000 lawsuits," said Brandes.

Many of those suits are fraudulent roof claims.

To try to get the skyrocketing rates under control, lawmakers are considering giving property insurance policies more flexibility. Senate Bill 1728 would allow insurance companies to offer policies that only pay the depreciated value of the roof or the actual cash value it is worth when damaged.  Meaning you would pay less each month, but foot more of the roofing repair bill.

"The only thing the insurance companies are allowed to do is replace your entire roof, even if that roof is 22 years old and only had a 20-year life," Brandes said.

Brandes calls this is an all-hands-on-deck situation, saying the bill is a good start. He also introduced legislation to address key problems with Citizens Insurance, and says even more needs to be done and soon.