NewsPrice of Paradise


Florida homeowners will pay the price if lawmakers don’t agree on a fix for property insurance

Expert predicts one catastrophic storm would crush system
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Posted at 9:23 PM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-12 05:14:12-04

TAMPA BAY — Industry experts often use terms like life support, verge of collapse and crisis when describing the state of Florida’s property insurance market.

Joe Petrelli, President of Demotech, the company that rates the solvency of insurers, points to the recent shuttering of three companies: Lighthouse, St. Johns Insurance, and Avatar Property and Casualty Insurance Company. Others are dropping hundreds of thousands of policyholders.

“If there is a heavy storm season, I think you could see the collapse of the entire system,” Petrelli told the I-Team. A disaster could trigger the loss of even more coverage for millions of Floridians.

RELATED: Homeowners' insurance rates more than double for Florida residents as roofing scams continue

Currently, homeowners whose insurers did not dump them are faced with a different kind of pain: skyrocketing rate increases. Companies who continue to write business in the sunshine state are jacking up rates by as much as 111%.

Tampa Bay homeowner Elizabeth Roache told the I-Team she's paying more than double what she paid two years ago. While Florida lawmakers disagree over the need for a special session to tackle insurance reform, everyone agrees it's a lawsuit problem.

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said last month Florida leads the country in lawsuits filed against property insurers with 76% of all property insurance litigation.

In March, Petrelli sounded the alarm and pressed the governor and heads of the house and senate to convene a special session on property insurance. He said not one of them responded.

According to, the average insurance policy for a $300,000 home in Florida is $3,600, $1,300 more than the national average.

Governor Ron DeSantis agrees there's a problem but has yet to exercise his legal authority to call a special session. Last week Republican Senator Jeff Brandes sidestepped the governor using a state statute that allows a lawmaker to poll colleagues for a special session.

Brandes garnered enough support to trigger a Department of State poll that will determine whether or not to call a special session. It will take 60% of lawmakers to say yes to get it on the calendar.

The I-Team also polled Florida lawmakers on whether they would support a special session to tackle insurance reform. Twenty-five of the 26 mostly democrat respondents said they would support it.

RELATED: Special legislative session on property insurance reaches polling threshold

Meanwhile, the research team at Colorado State University now predicts an "above-average" 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, with 19 named storms and nine hurricanes expected. Just one catastrophic storm may drown existing companies in claim-related litigation.

As Tampa Bay continues to attract new residents and businesses, the impact of living in paradise comes at a cost for all of us— from the increasing cost of housing and infrastructure to utilities and insurance. ABC Action News is committed to helping you and your family make the most of your money and navigate through the Price of Paradise.