Broward lawmakers mull insurance improvements

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Dan Sweeney

Published December 23, 2014


Broward legislators' ideas for insurance reform bound to be a hard sell in Tallahassee


The spiraling costs of wind and flood insurance are largely due to marketplace forces, but even around the edges where they can affect change, state lawmakers' hands are tied.

Still, on Tuesday, Broward lawmakers on an insurance subcommittee tried to come up with solutions to ease some of the pain.

Archie Grant, of the South Broward Board of Realtors, told them of instances in which homeowners' insurance policies had lapsed and they ended up with much more expensive policies obtained by their banks. In some cases, the banks controlled the carriers which wrote the sky-high policies.

"It's probably not addressed as much as it needs to be, but it is a real problem," Grant said.

However, such insurance is regulated at the federal level.

"Perhaps Citizens can help bridge that gap until that person can get back into the private marketplace," state Rep. Hazelle Rogers, D-Lauderdale Lakes, said after the meeting.

That could be a hard sell in Tallahassee, where the watch word has been "depopulation." The state-owned insurer of last resort has cut its number of policies from a high of 1.5 million in August 2012 to 727,000 in November of this year.

And even as homeowners move off of Citizens, windstorm insurance rates in Florida are set to increase 9 or 10 percent, according to Dulce Suarez-Resnick of the Latin American Association of Insurance Agents, who spoke at the meeting.

To help with that, Rogers raised the possibility of expanded block grants to cities and counties for hurricane-proofing and greater funding for homeowner programs which give low-interest loans to make homes more wind resistant.

The lawmakers plans to meet with Citizens representatives in January to discuss their proposals.