Florida flood insurance rates increasing, again

Efforts to get private insurers to offer flood insurance going slow

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Hundreds of thousands of Florida homeowners are about to get hit with a second round of double-digit flood insurance increases. The same thing happened last fall, but the public shock pushed Congress and the state to step in.

But a state effort to allow private insurers to offer flood insurance is off to a slow start.

A spokesman for the Florida Insurance Council said the industry is waiting for new flood maps and surge models before jumping into the flood insurance market with both feet.

The first notices for flood insurance renewals this fall are hitting Florida mailboxes. Many who live in their homes will see increases of 18 percent, but for second homes and rental properties, the hike is 25 percent.

Richard Koon is a state insurance regulator. He said Florida pays $4 for every dollar it gets back in claims. In other states, it's 20 cents, which should make offering flood insurance in Florida a potential profit center.

State lawmakers approved plans for private companies to offer flood insurance beginning July 1. Under the law, the companies can charge what the market will bear without first getting approval, but few are jumping in.

"It's going to take some time for the private market to move into this space," Koon said, pointing out the Flood Insurance agency in Gainesville has offered the insurance.

But an online quote from the agency showed little savings from the national flood prices.

The reality is that many homeowners who own their homes outright have just decided to go bare and have no flood insurance.

That's what Debbie Logan has been doing.

"Because it's too expensive," she said.

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