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Get the latest coverage of the 2021 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Senate Ready To Vote On Property Insurance Changes

Damaged buildings and homes are damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura near Lake Charles, La., Thursday.
Backers say the bill is needed because of financial problems in the insurance industry that have led to homeowners facing large rate increases or turning to the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. for coverage.

Part of the bill would allow insurers to limit amounts paid for roof damage and would place new restrictions on attorney fees in insurance disputes.

After rejecting a series of amendments proposed by Democrats, the Senate could vote as soon as Wednesday on potentially far-reaching changes to Florida’s property insurance system.

The Senate on Thursday took up a bill (SB 76), sponsored by Banking and Insurance Chairman Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, and positioned it procedurally for a vote.

The bill, in part, would allow insurers to limit amounts paid for roof damage and would place new restrictions on attorney fees in insurance disputes.

Backers say it is needed because of financial problems in the insurance industry that have led to homeowners facing large rate increases or turning to the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. for coverage.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, said major rate increases will continue unless lawmakers pass Boyd’s bill.

But Democrats argued that the proposed changes, such as allowing insurers to limit amounts paid for roof damage, would hurt consumers. Also, they said the bill doesn’t guarantee that will rates will decrease if the changes are approved.

“We can’t keep doing this on the backs of consumers,” Senate Minority Leader Gary Farmer, D-Lighthouse Point, said.

Farmer and other Democrats proposed several amendments, which were rejected by the Republican majority.

The measure is dramatically different from a House property-insurance bill that, for example, does not include the potential limits on payments for roof damage.

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