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Florida representatives look for solutions to the insurance crisis

Florida senators joined in on a town hall meeting Thursday evening to talk about what solutions they are proposing to the insurance rate hikes.

TAMPA, Fla. — State lawmakers held a virtual town hall to talk about the insurance crisis Floridians face.

People have been vocal about their concerns with rising insurance costs. Earlier this week at a Tampa City Council meeting, people explained how this is a big factor in why they are struggling financially.

"We are now finding ourselves with two incomes feeling like we can’t afford to live here," one woman said.

Others spoke during Monday's council meeting explaining their insurance rates went through the roof.

"A very high proposed increase on our property insurance... $1,500 from one year to then, that’s a lot," another woman stated during public comment. 

Other people are struggling to find coverage after being dropped by their company.

With this, state senators like Jeff Brandes, who represents Pinellas County, met virtually Thursday to discuss solutions. Senators proposed having fewer policies on Citizens Property Insurance and more on private insurers. Another proposed solution was to allow people to tailor their policies to what they need coverage for. 

An insurance expert told 10 Tampa Bay, no solution will be immediate. 

"Unfortunately, it’s going to take a long time to fix all the problems," Mark Friedlander with the Insurance Information Institute said. 

Friedlander said there are 18 companies in Florida on a watchlist because of financial instability.

"The Florida insurance market is still one of the most volatile. If not, the most volatile in the country right now," Friedlander added.

There are several reasons for that. Friedlander said one of the biggest factors is the lawsuits insurance companies faced.

"One of the biggest factors we’ve seen in Florida is the cost of legal system abuse," Friedlander added.

According to Friedlander, people sued insurance companies and those companies did not have the money to sustain business. The next factor – Hurricane Ian.

"You already have all these problems, so much turmoil in the Florida market, then you have one of the largest hurricanes in U.S. history," Friedlander said.

Rising building costs are reportedly also a factor. For these reasons, Friedlander said that’s why Florida insurance companies are raising rates and dropping others.

"Right now we’re in a very unstable state and that’s why this Democratic caucus is having these town halls," Friedlander added.

If you’re struggling to find coverage, Friedlander explained you can go to the surplus lines market. It's not regulated by the state, but it's a way to get coverage when you're finding no other company will insure you. Friedlander explained you will likely pay more for less coverage.

For those looking for a lower rate, you can increase your deductible. Friedlander said the caveat here is you will be liable for more out-of-pocket costs but have a lower payment. 

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