Negotiations continue on Florida homeowners insurance fix
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAP NEWS/WCJB) - Lawmakers in the State Capitol continue bouncing an insurance bill back and forth between the House and Senate as homeowners across the state face double digit increases.
Key provisions on roof replacements and attorneys fees continue to be sticking points.
RELATED STORY: Florida Senate approves homeowners insurance reform
The legislation sets limits on roof replacements.
The older the roof, the less the policy will pay, unless you opt for more expensive coverage.
“Ultimately, you are paying for your neighbors roof through higher premiums,” said State Senator Jeff Brandes.
The exact formula is still being worked out, but both chambers are working with a sense of urgency.
“There’s a problem with insurance rates rising at 25 to 35 percent a year,” said Representative Bob Rommel.
Lawsuits must be filed with in two years of the damage instead of the current three.
Lawmakers say the timeframe allows unscrupulous contractors to make up claims, so it bans gift cards as incentives.
“Let me up on your roof. I’ll give you five hundred bucks. I’ll get you a free roof and you won’t even have to pay your deductible,” said Rommel.
But opponents argued there’s no guarantee any savings will be passed on to homeowners.
“This chamber also rejected at least six point two percent rate saving per year,” said Representative Emily Slosberg, referring to an amendment rejected offered and rejected Tuesday.
The legislation also allows Citizens Insurance, which is now growing at 5,000 homeowners a week, to raise its rates more than the current ten percent.
The bill would allow one percent more a year more until it reaches 15 percent.
“Why are we depriving property owners of vital protections, just when they need them most,” said Representative Yvonne Hisnon.
Senate Co-Sponsor Jeff Brandes calls the legislation the most important thing lawmakers must do this year.
“Rate increases of 30 or 40 percent a year are going to become common in the next two years if we do nothing,” said Brandes.
And if all the details can’t be worked out before the end of the week, Brandes and others said there will have to be a special session by the end of the summer.
Lawmakers are also negotiating a cap on attorneys fees, basing them on the percentage of their initial claim they are eventually awarded, if any, by a court.
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