The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council unanimously passed a motion to send a letter to the Governor and the Tampa Bay region's legislative delegation requesting a Special Session to be held regarding the property insurance crisis facing Florida's property owners. "Homeowners and property owners in the state of Florida are experiencing drastic increases in premiums for property insurance and many Floridians are unable to obtain private homeowners insurance which is putting tremendous financial pressure on the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation," said Council Chair, Robert "Bob" Kersteen. "Further, the high cost or lack of insurance availability has a stifling effect on the housing and mortgage markets which are key economic sectors for the state of Florida.
The National Association of Realtors has testified that Florida's recent downward trend in housing sales is in part due to the "lack of affordable or available homeowners insurance." "It is critical that we involve all of the stakeholders such as the banking and insurance industry. The insurance industry cannot fix this alone. There are banking requirements for the deal to close," elaborated Pasco County Commissioner, Steve Simon. "We have become an escrow state because of these exotic plans and agreements that have very limited equity. Some have negative equity. I heartedly support the resolution to attempt to bring back Legislators into session for something that is already begetting foreclosure notices in my county (Pasco). Folks are unable to make their escrow payments."
Commissioner Ronnie Duncan of Pinellas County suggested formulating possible solutions to be forwarded to the Legislature. "If the Legislature has a few weeks notice they can straw poll what some of the alternatives are from the banking industry and the major insurance providers, and more importantly the re-insurance company providers." Also discussed at the meeting was the fact that Nationwide Insurance recently filed for a 71 percent increase in home insurance rates and State Farm has stated that its proposed 79 percent increase will be inadequate. Members of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council which represents four counties, 23 member governments and includes 12 gubernatorial appointees, have personally witnessed or heard evidence from numerous constituents that there is an insurance crisis in Florida. "We need the Florida Legislature to provide leadership on the insurance issue at both the state and national level," stated Bob Kersteen. "It is our hope that the Governor will call this Special Session to address this critical need."
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