House compromises on flood insurance

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After ranging for two months over how much flood coverage a Florida homeowner should be forced to buy under policies authorized by the state, the battle is over.

Florida homeowners who faced double and even triple digit increases in National Flood Insurance premiums may soon be able to buy a policy from Florida insurers.

With the legislative session set to end Friday, the State House took up its bill requiring homeowners to cover the full replacement cost of their home. 

"And it invites the market to come in and take care of Floridians at a rate that is going to be less," said Rep. Ed Hooper. 

Under Florida law, if a Florida company can't pay its claims, everyone in the state could be on the hook for decades. 

"(This is) enormous for every policy holder in the state of Florida," said Rep. Kevin Radar. "It could be $50 to $100 per policy."

After passing by a wide margin -- 98 yeas to 11 nays -- the bill went to the Senate, which wanted policy holders to only have to buy enough insurance to cover their unpaid mortgage. They're now backing down. 

"I still believe that we should offer more flexibility, but the offer is on the table that we could take right now," said Rep. Jeff Brandes. 

In the end, bankers said it doesn't matter what coverage amounts the state requires, lenders will have the final say. 

The legislation takes effect July 1, and if it makes it past Gov. Rick Scott, lower cost policies could be available by summer 2014. 

It's widely believed insurers will be able to sell policies for less because Florida sends $3.66 to Washington for every $1 in claims it gets back.

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