State Lawmakers Convene in Tallahassee

Efforts to reform Florida's property insurance industry begin today.

State lawmakers are meeting in Tallahassee for the first day of a special session designed to save the industry from collapsing. They'll focus on issues that include roof-damage claims, attorneys' fees, and re-insurance, which backs up the insurance companies in case of a hurricane or other disaster. Still, some lawmakers, like Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando), aren't all that optimistic about success. "I'm very concerned that the solutions before us are going to be anti-consumer," Eskamani said.

Homeowners are facing higher rates and fewer options as some companies have closed or left the state.

Lawmakers have released outlines of bills for the session. Among them, a bill to keep insurance companies from cancelling policies for homeowners whose roofs are less than 15 years old.

In addition, lawmakers are being asked to authorize $2 billion for a re-insurance fund, and to put restrictions on so-called "contingency fee multipliers" that can increase attorneys' fees in litigation against an insurance company.

"It's a very, very troublesome scenario that we're in," said Sen. Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton). "We've got to fix it, and I think we can."

The special session is set to last through Friday.

photo: Getty Images

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