MIAMI – (CBS4) – Homeowners frustrated by the increasing insurance costs gathered Saturday afternoon to protest future rate hikes being proposed in the state legislature.
Floridians In Action, the group protesting the hikes, said the bills being introduced in the state House and Senate will further depress cash-strapped homeowners and increase unemployment.
They expressed their discontent by gathering at Tropical Park from noon to 3 p.m.
Emiliano Antunez was among those who protested Saturday.
“Well, they’re proposing to go up almost 200 percent then on top of that Citizens Insurance would have to charge an additional 25 percent over whatever any private insurance company charges,” Antunez said. “We’re trying to bring awareness to the people. What’s going on in Tallahassee? It’s not in their best interest at this moment that they should get behind groups like these and contact their legislators and let ‘em know that we just can’t take it anymore.”
Luis Meurice said he’s fed up.
“It’s just a habitual problem with [insurance companies] just sticking their hands in our pockets and we are fed up with it,” said Luis Meurice, a protestor.
State legislators backing a variety of bills addressing homeowners’ insurance say the bills will bring insurance companies back to the state and boost the state’s property insurance market.
Floridians In Action disagrees and issued the following statement about insurance companies.
“They have emptied your pockets through higher insurance rates, which have affected employment, (depleted spending capital to purchase goods, services or construction.This translates into higher unemployment numbers); cost of living swells by additional premium hikes that affect every single business and Floridian,” the group said in a statement.
The group is protesting the following bills:
If passed, SB 1714 and HB 1243 would give Citizens Property Insurance Corporation the right to raise premiums by as much as 25 percent – a 10 percent increase over what state law currently allows.
SB 1462 and HB 4115 would do away with a state law that requires a consumer advocate group to score insurance companies based on claims handling.
SB 1330 and HB 885 would allow insurers to hike premiums by as much as 30 percent a year without approval from regulators.
SB 408 and HB 803 proposes shortening the time homeowners have to file hurricane and sinkhole claims. Insurance companies could be allowed to drop sinkhole coverage all together.
To send a letter to your state representative, click here.
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel contributed to this report.)