Flood insurance may be opened up to more companies in Florida

Bill would provide options and maybe lower costs

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Florida Senator Jeff Brandes, a Republican from St. Petersburg, along with Representative Larry Ahern of Seminole, want the Florida legislature to pass Senate Bill 542 soon after it convenes in Tallahassee in March.

The proposal allows private insurers to offer flood coverage as an alternative to FEMA's program which has come under fire for skyrocketing rates. "Congress has turned the American dream into a nightmare for many homeowners in the Tampa Bay market; and that's why we need this bill," said Brandes.

"That's the hallmark of this bill, is that it allows flexibility and options for homeowners. And for them to be able to insure the risks that they can afford to insure," Brandes explained.

David Nelson has lived in his Safety Harbor house for eight years. He loves his water view that comes with a price. He thinks flood insurance privatization is a good thing.

"Freedom of choice is something we all want when it comes to shopping for anything. Competition's important and hopefully competition will bring the pricing down for flood insurance," he said.

Gwen Box is fearful she'll lose her first floor Treasure Island home if something isn't done to rein in the cost of flood insurance. "We need help, we need relief. And I'm thrilled to hear that somebody is doing something, at least trying to do something," Box said.  

Will companies flock to the Sunshine State to write flood insurance policies?

"I think the financial incentives are that they can operate at rates, and be profitable at rates, below the FEMA rates," Brandes said.

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