Struggling homeowners insurance market becoming a major concern for Florida legislators

LEE COUNTY, Fla. – Florida’s home insurance crisis is expected to worsen in the coming months as lawsuits against insurance companies could reach $20-billion dollars.

The Insurance Information Institute predicts that could further strain small regional insurers leaving them to go out of business and homeowners to find a company to pick them up.

It’s a matter Florida lawmakers must tackle in the days ahead as they head back to Tallahassee next month to address the crisis.

Paula Colose and her sister Roseann Cutler have been without electricity for seven weeks in their North Fort Myers home after Hurricane Ian ripped off the back of their home tearing out their electrical box.

They can’t get anyone to their home to make the repairs in order for the power company to restore their electricity and that isn’t the worst of their problems.

“We can’t afford homeowners insurance,” Colose said.

She is among thousands who are now left to pay for their repairs.

Joe Pardo of Cape Coral also had no insurance when Ian left he and his wife with more than $100k in damages to their home.

State Representative Adam Botana who represents people in District 80 along the coast understands the pain first hand.

He said his district, stretching from Boca Grande to Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach and Matlatcha was swamped and he too had no insurance.

“I live on the backside of Bonita Beach and I have a 1968 stilt home. It’s my decision not to have insurance on it. I can’t because the insurance would be astronomical,” Botana said.

He admits that lawmakers like him have their work cut out for them.

“We need to open the market up and have other companies come in here and we have to get off relying on citizens for everything. Because Florida taxpayers are going to be on the dime for that,” Botana said.

Reid McDaniel who owns McDaniel Insurance Solutions in North Fort Myers pointed out that the cost of roof claims is going to continue to drive up insurance prices.

Since 2017 the state has lost six insurance companies and many still doing business in Florida want to further increase rates.

Roseann Cutler says she and her sister can’t afford to allow it to happen again as they look to lawmakers to fix the problem.

“We have to be able to afford insurance,” Cutler said.

A date for the special session has not been set. The governor said he wanted it to happen before the end of the year.

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