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Florida homeowners face soaring property insurance rates

FORT MYERS, Fla.– Property insurance rates are on the rise for homeowners in Southwest Florida. In some cases, people are seeing the amount they normally pay, doubling.

The property insurance market is in turmoil and one big reason is the massive amount of fraud since hurricane Irma struck the state.

If you’re a property owner in Southwest Florida, your home insurance might be going through the roof. The problem is so serious that many realtors fear it could threaten the booming housing market.  

Serena Warf, a Cape Coral resident, was caught off guard when she received a letter from her insurance company.

“This year my home insurance premium is skyrocketing from $2200 to $5200 a year,” Warf said.

That’s more than double and it equates to a $400 a monthly increase in her home mortgage.

Warf called the news discouraging and pointed out the rate increase was happening even though she had never filed a claim. She’s now forced to find another company who will insure her home.

“I’m trying to figure out desperately how to keep our home,” she explained.

AAA Home Insurance expert, John Risk, said he has received numerous calls because of the changes in the market.

Risk explained insurance companies are losing money and he has seen an increase of up to 40%.

Last year, the insurance industry lost $1.6-billion statewide due to an abundant amount of claims that were filed, a majority of them fraudulent.

“You have all these things on top of each other which cause rates to go up,” Risk noted.

Nancy Dominguez, Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, warns if someone comes knocking on your door claiming they can get you a new roof for free to tell them to go away.

Roofing contractors are soliciting home owners.

Republican State Representative Bob Rommel told lawmakers that in some cases roofers have offered people $500 to gain access to the roof and in many cases are able to file a claim that doesn’t require people to pay their deductible.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that if 25% of a roof is damaged the entire roof must be replaced and the insurance company must pay for it.

“There’s really no way for the insurance companies to show whether the damage was storm related,” said Lee County Tax Collector Matt Caldwell.

Most people are claiming the damage came from Hurricane Irma in 2017. A new bill expected to take effect in July makes the practice of soliciting homeowners illegal.

Democrat State Representative, Yvonne Hinson, questioned why lawmakers are depriving property owners of vital protections just when they need them the most.   

She and other democrats argue the bill does nothing to stop rising insurance costs now.

Caldwell has his own concerns.

“My concern is that folks who are looking to retire could look at that and be discouraged,” Caldwell said.

Experts urge people to shop for insurance.

Order a wind mitigation inspection that tells companies how well your home will stand up against wind damage, while you try to stand up to rising insurance rates.

If your policy is dropped — the last resort is the state run Citizens Property Insurance which offers only basic coverage to properties valued under $700k.

More than half a million residents have been forced into the program which typically costs more for less coverage.

The post Florida homeowners face soaring property insurance rates appeared first on NBC2 News.

NBC2 (WBBH-TV)

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