Lawyers, legislators battle over sinkhole insurance

Article and Video Courtesy of

TV 10 Connect Tampa / St. Petersburg

Published January 2, 2009

By: Noah Pransky

 Watch VIDEO


NEW PORT RICHEY, Florida - A new law set to take effect on New Year's Day will significantly lower private homeowner's insurance for thousands of residents in Pasco and Hernando Counties. However, lawyers and consumer advocates say the wording of the law is a "very bad deal" for homeowners.


State Senator Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey) sponsored the amendment that allows insurance companies to "nonrenew the policies of policyholders maintaining sinkhole coverage in Pasco and Hernando Counties, at the option of the insurer."

He says it will give thousands of homeowners a desperately-needed break from insurance premiums, which have skyrocketed by more than 100% in recent years because of fraudulent sinkhole claims.

However, trial lawyer John Byrne says the instances of insurance fraud are low and sinkhole activity is rampant in the counties affected by the amendment.

"You've got a greater chance in Pasco and Hernando county to have a sinkhole than you probably do of having either a fire or a hurricane hit," Byrne said. "What good is insurance that doesn't actually provide coverage?"


Fasano says the program will be a success because its modeled after the same amendment that allowed Citizen's Insurance to nonrenew sinkhole coverage in those counties last year.

And while he recommends homeowners in sinkhole-prone areas pay for as much insurance as they can, he admits most will opt for a 50% discount in their premiums instead of keeping sinkhole coverage

Fasano says he has Citizen's Insurance on his Pasco Co. home and dropped sinkhole coverage last year, saving $1,500.

For more on the new law, watch the video on the upper right.

A little note: Removing the windstorm coverage from the insurance policy would reduce the premium even further!