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Homeowners Fed Up With Rising Insurance Rates

MIAMI (CBS4) - As we approach the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, more and more homeowners are finding it impossible to find affordable insurance for their homes or condos.

And they're getting increasingly angry with elected officials who may be unwilling or unable to do anything to stop the rising rates.

Like so many other local residents, Larry Jones has seen his Citizens' insurance bills climb dramatically.

The South Miami Heights resident blames state lawmakers for allowing insurance lobbyists to convince state regulators that the industry needs to keep raising rates.

"I guess before the insurance increased, our insurance was almost $400-$500 a year. Now we're paying five..some areas of $5000 in homeowners insurance. Our elected officials give them all the breaks, but when it's on the back of the people, that's an issue and this is what's taking place in the State of Florida," said Jones. "It's on the backs of the people and that's sad".

Local insurance insiders tell CBS4 Consumer Investigator Al Sunshine that Tallahassee lawmakers for several decades now have been either unwilling or unable to pass any meaningful insurance reforms aimed at increasing competition and lowering rates.

"20 years later you're definitely feeling the effects, definitely. because we have not been able to fix the problem," said longtime insurance agent Dulce Suarez Resnick.

Some political analysts say homeowner demand for affordable insurance could soon become a major campaign issue in upcoming fall elections. It could turn into a major political liability for Governor Rick Scott who's pushed for Citizens to cut policies and raise rates even higher than they are now .

Miami Herald political writer Marc Caputo recently told CBS 4 News, "If their insurance rates go up and up and up as incomes remain the same or fall, that's a perfect storm that's going to be really difficult for the Governor or anyone to survive."

And here's something else state lawmakers and Insurance lobbyists may not be publicizing: Some of the largest home insurers in the country just reported their latest earnings. Allstate, State Farm and Travelers reported about $3 billion-dollars in combined earnings for just 2nd quarter alone.

And despite having $6 billion dollars in surplus reserves, Citizens' continues to insist it needs more money and is now seeking another rate hike from the state.

So what can local homeowners do about it?

For both state, local and national races, find out the candidates position on better regulating the Homeowners' Insurance Industry to stabilize rates.

If you don't like the answer you get, consider voting for someone else.

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