Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Plea for Relief on Insurance

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Plea for Relief on Insurance

Article excerpt

MEETING: Condo owners tell lawmakers their property insurance rates are soaring

SARASOTA

The penny-pinching condo board members of Village Green Section 11 work hard to keep costs down for residents, from repainting shuffleboard courts themselves to organizing community landscaping days.

But one expense they have little control over is property insurance, which is set to more than triple in price for the association's 24 units next year.

The $20,000 increase had board members pleading with state lawmakers from the Sarasota area Monday to address Florida's home insurance problems in the legislative session that begins in March.

"Property insurance has gotten totally out of control in this state," said condo board member Ed Wolfe.

Wolfe received a sympathetic response from the lawmakers at their pre-legislative session meeting, but solving the problem will not be easy. Proposed remedies have proven highly controversial in recent years, and typically rest on higher premiums.

Homeowners and condo associations already are reeling from insurance price shock. Many Florida property insurers raised rates significantly in 2011 and the state Office of Insurance Regulation received 73 applications through September of this year to raise the price of a typical homeowner's policy.

One Allstate affiliate proposed a 32.4 percent rate boost this year.

The increases often translate to hundreds of dollars for the typical homeowner.

Southwest Florida will have a strong voice in the insurance debate in 2013 with state Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, serving on the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. Detert said it is "obscene" that property insurance is now more expensive than property taxes for many state residents.

"I do agree that it prohibits people from moving to the state," she said Monday.

Detert said she wants the state to consider more "innovative" approaches to the insurance issue than what has been proposed in recent years.

Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature have largely focused on trying to shrink state-run Citizens Property Insurance, Florida's largest insurer with 1. …

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