Florida Lawmakers Discuss Hurricane Insurance Payout Legislation

These houses in the Pensacola area were damaged by both wind and rising water. As many as 4,000 people are still fighting with their insurance company over how much they are owed.

Belva Mazzeo, who survived Hurricane Ivan, says, "Initially the story was flood, and like I said, my husband was here and there was a lot of wind damage with this."

Companies that wrote windstorm coverage are balking at paying 100 percent of the damage as they sort out how much of the damage was caused by flooding.

Who pays how much has become a major battle in the state Legislature. Last summer, an appeals court held that windstorm insurers are liable up to the full policy amount, but an effort led by the insurance industry wants to limit what insurers will have to pay when flood damage is present.

Rep. Pat Patterson, (R) Deland, and Allstate Insurance Company Manager, says, "I think it’s a consumer relief act, because what we have to do is make sure that insurance, home owner insurance, is affordable and available."

But opponents say changing the current law will hurt thousands of homeowners.

Rep. Anne Gannon, (D) Delray Beach, says, "It means that they are only going to pay a portion of the big value of that policy. Many of them will not be able to rebuild."

There was heated debate in the House and the bill was poised to pass, and then all of a sudden the leadership put it on hold.

With hurricane season around the corner, insurance companies are saying there will be large increases if the law is not passed.

The legislation also makes it easier for insurance companies to dip into the state’s hurricane catastrophe fund, which would cut their costs after a major storm.