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The Florida Legislature has just kicked a lot of Florida homeowners while they’re down, with yesterday’s announcement that an agreement has been reached on the passage of a bill that will not only allow insurance companies to hike the cost of property insurance, but it will also okay the insurer’s ability to shorten the deadlines for claims to be filed by their policyholders.  Great, just great.

Senator Garrett Richter (a Republican out of Naples, Florida) explained to the press that this new law will help the Florida insurance companies, who apparently are hurting in today’s bad economic climate.  For many, of course, the response to the poor insurance companies’ dire straits is “join the club.”

Proponents argue that this new law will entice more insurance companies to do business in Florida, and more competition will help Florida homeowners.  Heck, even the Florida Wildlife Federation and the Florida Catholic Conference have given this legislation a thumbs up.

However, many are warning that all this means is higher rates for Floridians – and a higher risk of a denied claim when they experience a loss. Democratic senators fear that all this law really does is help big business — and that Florida’s Average Joe, already fighting to hold onto his home, just got kicked again.

Want to follow the proposal or read the drafts? Go here to read and follow the legislation online.

The latest?  Yesterday, the Florida House approved a version of the bill that will legally require insurers to cover structural damage – and only structural damage –  for primary buildings. Structural damages?  That’s defined in the new law after the insurance companies complained about having to pay for claims they considered frivolous or silly.  Driveway cracks, for example.

Now, the ball has been tossed back to the Florida Senate.  Once the Senate votes to pass the law, the final version of the law goes to Governor Scott’s desk for his review and signature.  No one really doubts that the Governor is going to sign the bill.

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