Homeowners to be offered affordable flood insurance

Homeowners facing double digit increases

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Tens of thousands of Florida homeowners are being hit by rising flood insurance premiums, but there may soon be another alternative.

The state, along with private insurers, may come to the rescue of homeowners facing double digit increases in their flood insurance. Affordable flood insurance could soon be added to the menu.

Based on previous losses, a state run flood insurance policy could dramatically lower premiums while still remaining financially sound.

Almost four of every ten flood insurance policies sold in the United States are sold in Florida, but when it comes to collecting on damages, the state is losing out.

"For every dollar we put in premiums, we only get a quarter of that back in claims pay," said State Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty.

Floridians have paid at least $12 billion to cover people's losses in other states. Now, as policy holders here are being hit with double digit increases mandated by the federal government, state Senators say it makes sense for a state that already offers wind insurance to offer flood insurance.

"I think this is something we got to look at," said Sen. David Simmons. "We can't leave these individuals without any kind of insurance."

Lawmakers' first choice is to entice private insurers to offer flood. Florida Realtors say covering flood could be a money maker.

"Of the top ten events, only one of those was a Florida event, and it was Hurricane Ivan. So the major flood events in the United States are all outside of Florida with the exception of one," said John Sebree, of the Florida Realtors Association.

When asked, Gov. Rick Scott deflected the question.

"Here's what I'm frustrated with -- the person that signed the bill that it looks like it's going to dramatically increase flood insurance for many persons all around the state, he needs to put a pause button on that bill," Scott said.

But if the federal government ignores pleas to stop the dramatic increases, Florida could be in the flood insurance business by spring or summer.