Florida lawmakers call for extension of program they say could lower property insurance premiums over time

Lawmakers in Tallahassee gathered for a special session Tuesday to discuss the extension of the “My Safe Florida Home Program,” which they say could lower property insurance premiums over time.

According to its website, the My Safe Florida Home Program was created to strengthen Florida homes against hurricanes by providing money for improvements, which in turn saves homeowners money.

While property owners who didn’t suffer any damage to their homes during Hurricane Idalia won’t feel the direct impact of this new legislation, lawmakers say it could still have an indirect impact on premiums in the future.

The rising costs of property insurance is one of the biggest complaints for families who own a house in the state of Florida with economists calling it a “statewide crisis.”

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According to the Insurance Information Institute, Florida’s home insurance is the highest annual premium in all of the United States, averaging more than $6,000 a year in 2022 versus the average US home premium which is $1,700.

“They want meteoric change with the markets, but what we actually can provide is the opportunity for people to invest in their own home and do a two-to-one match in investment to their home,” Rep. Chip Lamarca said.

Lawmakers said the My Safe Florida Home Program will help reduce insurance premiums in the long run by helping Floridians who were impacted by storms to get upgrades to protect their houses by assisting homeowners in upgrading items like their roof coverings, doors and windows.

The program was so popular the state ran out of funding, which is why lawmakers are proposing approving another $176 million in state funds to reopen the program and address the pending applications.

“This money is to clear the waitlist, this program is so popular that the waitlist has grown large enough that we didn’t allocate enough funds, we didn’t realize how many people would take advantage of this, but we’re excited that they did so we want to make sure we can fund all the people on their waitlist,” Rep. Jason Shoaf said.

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According to Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, the average participant in the My Safe Florida Home Program is seeing their premiums drop by $1,000 a year.

“After the last hurricane…what we want people to do is to rebuild, we want people to get back to their normal life,” Shoaf said.

Lawmakers said the new legislation is on the fast track to being approved by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“They will have their application processed and we put additional money over there to help them out too, so that will hopefully go a long way and help those folks especially those in the devastated areas,” Sen. Clay Yarborough said.

The Senate is expected to give final approval to new legislation as soon as Wednesday.

The House and Senate bills also provide millions of dollars to fund low-interest or interest-free loans to agriculture producers and millions to timber owners.

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