‘This is free money’: Officials trying to get My Safe Florida Home program running again following severe storms

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis urged Floridians to enroll in the My Safe Home Program to help save homeowners on insurance. The program has practically run out of money and state officials are trying to get it back running again.

Patronis said Tuesday’s severe weather event in Florida was very reminiscent of the damage in years past from Hurricanes Idalia, Irma, and Michael. The system generated tornadoes that damaged communities and entire neighborhoods.

In Jacksonville, the aftermath was hard to comprehend at times.

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“If you make that house a tougher bubble, that the winds can’t penetrate, that the windows can’t blow out, if it’s less risk, that means less likely your insurance carrier will have to pay a claim,” Patronis said.

He suggested that homeowners take steps to harden their homes and enroll in the My Safe Florida Home program which assists with free wind mitigation inspections, and matching grants.

“This is free money that citizens are eligible for and you can apply for it,” Patronis said.

News4JAX learned that the “free” money Patronis is speaking about isn’t as easy to get as one might think because the My Safe Florida Program has been experiencing a backlog in applications because of a lack of state funds.

In November, more than 17,000 applicants were put on a waiting list for the program. Lawmakers are trying once again to address the issue to help Floridians during the legislative session which started on Tuesday.

Two republican lawmakers filed legislation last week to expand the My Safe Florida Home program by $205 million.

Senate Bill 1208 and House Bill 1142 would require the Department of Financial Services to make inspections available to homeowners to find out what steps could be taken to protect a home. The legislation also introduces financial grants for homeowners to make flood-related improvements to their homes.

The program is also designed to encourage homeowners to enhance their homes and make them less susceptible to flooding. Patronis said the programs worked for him, and he’s hoping the new legislation will expand the program’s reach.

“This past year, I decided to harden my home, with those insurance improvements I made to my own home, my insurance dropped almost 50%,” Patronis said.

News4JAX reached out to the state for the latest My Safe Home backlog statistics and data and has not received anything at the time of publishing this article.

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