TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Late Thursday, the Florida Legislature sent a bill to Governor Scott that makes it easier for property insurers to raise rates, cut the time you have to file claims, an keep your payment until the repairs are actually made to your house.
Gov. Scott has 15 days to sign the bill into law.
The bill allows insurers to raise rates up to 15 percent a year, without any further regulation, to cover the increased cost of reinsurance. That’s the insurance an insurance company buys to help cover its losses.
The move has homeowner like Gunther Krager groaning over his insurance bill.
“This is inconceivable”, said Krager. “People cannot afford in a very weak economy, second to the great depression. People losing their homes. And so now how are they going to come up with these premiums.”
In addition, insurers will no longer have to get regulator approval to raise rates to cover the cost of advertising expenses and payment of agent commissions.
Currently, a homeowner has up to 5 years to file claims for hurricane and sinkhole coverage. The new law would cut that to 3 years for Hurricane claims, and just 2 years for sinkhole losses.
In addition, once a claim is filed and payment is agreed upon, insurers will now have the right to withhold full payment for the claim until all the work is done, except in the case where a property is totally destroyed.
Currently, if an insurance company offers both auto and homeowners insurance in the same policy, they will now be able to drop that policy with just 90 days notice.
In are area of consumer protection, the bill would require new insurers to have better reserves, $15 million starting this year. Existing insurers to have $15 million by 2021.
“Regardless of who was in office this was going to be necessary,” Dulce Suarez-Resnick told CBS4’s David Sutta.
She says every insurer in the state was watching this bill. If it didnt pass, some would have stopped writing new policies or worse, closed down.
“The situation is if you want a healthy market. Your going to spend your hard earned money on an insurance policy,” said Suarez-Resnick. “Do you want the company to be there the day you have a claim? That’s the bottom line.”