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Insurance changes

Now is a good time to get out your insurance policy and make sure your coverage is up to date. But there could be changes in your premium thanks to recent decisions in tallahassee.

For years now, people have been saying that Florida is only one costly storm away from financial catastrophe. With homeowners, businesses, charities, churches and even auto policyholders paying heavy "hurricane tax" assessments from past storms, we also face the risk of crippling new taxes down the road triggered by both citizens property insurance and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.

With the state holding so many policies through citizens, lawmakers from inland areas fear assessments on all policyholders in the event of a cataclysmic hurricane. They are essentially asking, "should someone living in Molino be sudsidizing insurance on a luxury home in Miami?"

"It's all part of the cost of living here," Jim Barnes said. "And insurance when you look at it is a bet. The insurance company is betting that the catastrophe is not going to happen. You're betting that it is going to happen. And it all just comes down to dollars and cents."

And if the state's catastrophe fund cannot raise the money to pay its claims, millions of policyholders may suffer. There is serious concern that the catastrophe fund has little hope of financing an especially large storm or a second storm this season.

"I chose to live here, and I made that choice knowing all of that information," said Cynthia Howie. "And I think each part of the United States, or the world, has different options you have to consider when you make that choice. But the benefit far out weighs that in my opinion."

"The citizens have got to step up and to some degree they've got to chip in too," Barnes said. "You know it's going to hurt on both ends, and both are going to have to contribute. Otherwise, it's just not going to work."

The local insurance professionals say to make sure the company you choose has experience with storms if possible and a local agent you can work with.

Insurance changes

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