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Miami Homeowner’s Insurance Premiums Could Rise Dramatically if Lawmakers Pass Deregulation

The insurance industry hopes to gain enough support to pass a new law that will make it easier to hike property insurance rates, according to media reports.

Last week, our Florida Insurance Lawyer Blog reported a request by Citizens Property Insurance for a double-digit rate increase. And Allstate is requesting regulators to permit rate hikes by an average of 18 to 33 percent, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

But the real goal is to do away with the regulatory process that requires the companies to go through the Office of Insurance Regulation when requesting rate hikes. Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a bill that would have permitted property insurance companies to raise rates up to a certain percentage without a full review by the Office of Insurance Regulation.

With Crist running for the U.S. Senate, Florida will have a new governor in January.

“The governor that vetoed the measure won’t be here next year, so I think that we have a good shot,” Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, said Tuesday. He sponsored the bill last session and will likely again carry the proposal.

This legislation would be a major win for insurance companies and a major slap in the face for homeowners. As our Miami insurance dispute attorneys have reported, property insurance companies are already pushing double-digit increases past regulators, despite no major storm damage in the last five years and plummeting property values. Still, companies are claiming rates are not high enough to match risk and pay claims.

Only the governor’s veto prevented the measure from becoming law; it actually had the support of Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty. Of the current candidates for governor, only Alex Sink is on the record as likely opposing the idea. “We should not have deregulation in the insurance market, the role of the insurance commissioner is critical,” Sink has said.

Neither Rick Scott nor Bill McCollum has addressed the issue.

Perhaps you are thinking that our representatives would no more pass such a law than they would limit the number of hours of care nursing homes are required to provide. Or limit the ability of customers to collect damages when injured by negligent conditions at big box stores and other accidents on business property.

In fact lawmakers passed both those measures during the last legislative session.

If you are facing a dispute over an insurance claim in South Florida, contact Alvarez & Barbara, LLP toll free at 866-518-2913 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

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