For weeks people in Florida have been talking about recent legislative action that was supposed to lower premiums for homeowners here in Zephyrhills, Pasco County, and the rest of the State of Florida. First, we learned that the promised price reductions were probably not going to be as great as we were led to believe. Now it is being reported that Nationwide Insurance will in fact be raising its rates an average of 54% throughout the state. That will be a nasty surprise to many homeowners whose rates are already high even without that type of price hike.
This is apparently what happened. Last summer Nationwide asked for a 71% increase. That was denied, so they went to arbitration with the state. Now the arbitrators have said that they can have an average 54% increase. Note the word "average". Some increases could be much higher. Since the arbitration was started before the recently enacted new regulations, the state cannot deny this increase. The newly passed laws forbid any more arbitrations until 2009, but that does not affect this last hurrah that had begun before the laws went into effect. This could affect many Floridians since Nationwide is one of the largest insurers in the state.
Nationwide has proposed that they only reduce their premiums under the new laws by about 4.5%. Nice of them to raise their premiums 54% then reduce them by just 4.5%!! The state is challenging Nationwide's very small reduction.
Governor Crist has pointed out that when Nationwide made their initial rate hike request and then went to arbitration Jeb Bush was still in office. He still believes that people in Florida will see "Rates decline significantly". "I guarantee it", said Governor Crist recently.
Makes one wonder if getting some relief from high insurance premiums isn't a lot like searching for a snowman on Miami Beach!