News & Updates


Property Insurance Changes

Posted: 10:04 PM May 18, 2009
Last Updated: 10:04 PM May 18, 2009
Reporter: Troy Kinsey
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For Brad Ashwell, consumer advocacy isn’t just a day job, it’s personal.

He’ll be the first to tell you he’s a man of humble means, with a property insurance bill totaling more than eight hundred dollars a year. Come renewal time, that burden could grow by eighty dollars more if the governor signs off on a plan Ashwell calls bad news.

"It’s pretty expensive, I mean, on top of paying for gas and food and everything you have to pay for to live, it’s a hefty chunk each month," says Ashwell, who opposes higher rates.

Just when you thought your biggest fear as a homeowner was a hurricane, well, your mailbox could be about to deliver a rude surprise. But, insurance companies argue, there’s no way around it.

Even though Florida went hurricane-free over the past year, industry guru Bob Lotane says forty percent of companies actually lost money.

He also points out, the state’s catastrophe fund could have up to a twelve billion dollar shortfall. If a major hurricane comes calling, that could put homeowners on the hook.

"If we don’t have the money there to cover these things, it’s going to come out of their policies in the form of taxes, really they call them assessments, but really it’s a form of taxes, and they can be large," says Lotane.

It’s a risk Ashwell’s willing to take.

Right now, he can’t afford to pay much more. But, if the rate hike bill becomes law?

"Maybe I’m being naive, I mean, I just can’t assume that we’ll be able to pay it when it comes, and honestly I’m not too sure what we would do if we were dropped, but I think my only option would be to turn to smaller insurance companies," Ashwell adds, with the hope they’d offer lower rates.

But, that’s every bit as unpredictable as hurricane season.

Insurance experts say there would be some good news for homeowners if the bill is signed into law.

Rates in the state-run insurance company, citizens, are set to go on the rise by as much as fifty-five percent.

The bill would limit the annual increase to just ten percent.