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Florida lawmakers to talk property insurance reform in special session

There are a couple of bills lawmakers can consider to help ease the property insurance crisis in Florida.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Next week, Florida lawmakers will be back in Tallahassee to try to work on property insurance reform as part of a special session. 

Whether you've been shopping for a house or trying to renew your insurance, you've probably noticed some pricey premiums. Insurers say they're getting hit with lawsuits to the point many are going out of business or having to scale back.

Bradenton Sen. Jim Boyd, who is also an insurance broker, says his own insurance went up 35 percent last year. He's heard how it's impacting Florida families.

“Some people say man I got a 10 percent rate increase, and as bad as it sounds, I say you ought to be happy it's not going up 30, 40, 50, 60 percent,” said Boyd, a Republican.

So what's the answer to getting those premiums down?

Sen. Jason Pizzo, a Democrat, says he expects Boyd's previous bill to be the basis for the changes lawmakers will consider next week with its focus on litigation and not the insurance carriers.

“Very little discussion or treatment it seems or appetite there seems to be as it relates to sort of reigning in and putting guardrails on insurance companies and what they do either with their premiums or with their profits,” Pizzo said.

Boyd says over the last five years, 71 percent of what insurers paid out when to lawyers and 8 percent went to homeowners. That litigation contributed to the insurance market losing $1.5 billion last year. He points to fraudulent roof claims as a factor. He says with attorneys' fees, a $20,000 roof replacement might end up costing the insurer $100,000.

Right now, there are two pieces of legislation that lawmakers can look at next week. A bill filed Tuesday would require the Office of Insurance Regulation to study competition in the market. Another bill looks at the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund reimbursement standards and how it’s funded. The idea is that if insurers don’t have to pay as much into it, that could help lower your premiums, perhaps a few hundred dollars.

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