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Is it Time for the Florida Legislature to Step in on Flood Insurance Matters?

The debate about whether there should be some control by the Florida legislature over different types of insurance categories has been going on for many years. With the recent scandals in the insurance industry, some have started calling for intervention again. The State of Florida has taken some steps to get involved with flood insurance policies after a federal bill has set the stage for premiums to rise dramatically. Despite the movement towards alleviating the burden on Florida residents who own homes here, many in Florida still face unjust claims denials. 

When an insurance company to which you made faithful payments refuses to honor a valid claim, you need the assistance of the South Florida homeowners' insurance attorneys and commercial insurance claim attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano We have more than 100 years of collective experience in getting the results that our clients deserve. Our attorneys remain current on all the changes in Florida's insurance rules and regulations in order to provide the best possible legal representation to our clients.

In January 2014, the Florida Legislature began the process of creating an alternative option to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) with a bill that would develop regulated Florida insurance product. The Senate was the first to take up the bill and it had passed the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee before running into a roadblock in early February.

The proposal is intended to provide incentives to private insurance companies to offer alternatives to the federal government's flood insurance program. The bill is sponsored by Senator Jeff Brandes, a Republican from St. Petersburg. As part of the bill, the consumer would have options, including getting coverage for:

• Any balance that remained on their mortgage;
• The replacement cost of the residence; or • The assessed cash value of the residence.

There is only a single policy option under the NFIP. The private market option is in response to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, which reduces subsidies and requires a rise in premiums based on actual flood risk. The motivation behind this federal reform was the $24 billion dollar shortfall in the NFIP after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy led to many claims. This reform act would cause a rate increase of at least twenty percent (20%) and much higher rises in areas where older homes had benefitted from rate subsidies. Florida would be particularly hard-hit because thirty-seven percent (37%) of flood insurance policies are written for Florida residents. Although Congress has taken steps to delay the implementation of this act, its potential impact is causing Florida legislators to take action.

The proposed Brandes bill would require that private insurers provide at least as much coverage as offered by NFIP and have a transparent policy process, so consumers are aware of any gaps in the coverage.

Although this bill was headed to the floor of the Senate after it passed the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government, Senator Jack Latvala, a Republican from Clearwater, objected to an amendment that rewrote much of the bill. Senator Brandes agreed to have the bill sent back to the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. Although there is uncertainty about the timeline for this bill, it appears that the legislature is willing to get involved to correct a problem that seriously hurts many Floridians.

Miami Homeowners Insurance Attorneys Know How to Get You Insurance Payments

When you have submitted a claim to be able to get back into your home after it has been damaged or destroyed, a denial of claim is one of the most terrible moments a person can experience. The knowledgeable and dedicated homeowners' insurance attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano understand what you are going through and will use our considerable skills to get you the payment to which you are entitled. Our law firm has more than three decades of experience in successfully challenging claims denials. We will use this expertise on your behalf. Our commitment to our clients has garnered an "AV" rating from Martindale Hubbell and a high rating from Primerus. In addition, the Miami Herald has voted us one of South Florida's top-rated firms. Let our hard-working attorneys fight for the justice you deserve. To schedule an initial consultation, call (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website.

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