Homeowners Insurance Protections Sought

By: Andy Alcock
By: Andy Alcock

There's a new effort to protect Florida homeowners.

Work is underway to make sure there's fairness in homeowners insurance policies and claims.

For many people, their home is their biggest investment.

With Florida prone to natural disasters like hurricanes, that investment can be threatened, even if homeowners have insurance.

"Florida law right now is a little tilted in favor of the insurance companies," said Reggie Garcia of the Florida Justice Association.

Garcia addressed the "Homeowners' Policy and Claims Bill of Rights Working Group" currently tackling this issue.

"Frankly, claims have been denied, delayed or substantially reduced," he said.

"Consumers are very vulnerable in this process," said Florida's Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Smith Wescott.

Wescott is chairing the working group.

She says her goals are to provide better consumer education and changes to Florida law.

She says was especially concerned about reports of an insurance company checking homeowners applications after claims were filed in order to deny claims.

An attempt to change the law at the end of the last session failed.

She wants to be ready for the next one.

"Our intent is to get into the process much earlier on and have a great deal of transparency and I hope a lot of consumer support," said Wescott.

"And that's where the discussion about what's fair comes into play," said Garcia. "Not just if and when the claim is paid, but how fast, so that homeowners don't have to go into their own pockets and front some of these very costly repairs," he said.

Wescott says the working group wants to have a bill package presented to lawmakers for pre-session committee meetings they hold in September and October.

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