Special Session Begins

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Angry and worried homeowners and businesses who can't afford doubling and tripling premiums for property insurance may get some relief. Lawmakers began a weeklong special session today aimed at lowering rates.

The problem has been growing since 2004, the first of two bad hurricane seasons that cost insurers more than $30 billion in Florida, but lawmakers have resisted measures in recent years that would quickly cut rates, which the industry says could simply exacerbate the problem by driving more companies out of the state.

Several big insurers have already shed hundreds of thousands of policies, leaving many Floridians with only one option. That option is the state's expensive last resort insurance company. Citizens Property Insurance hasn't had enough money to pay its claims and has seen its own rates spiral beyond affordability for many customers.

But lawmakers this time promise to cut rates for at least some customers.


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