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South Florida homeowners hoping newly-passed legislation will provide some relief for skyrocketing insurance rates

South Florida homeowners need new property insurance changes to kick in to deal with surging rates
South Florida homeowners need new property insurance changes to kick in to deal with surging rates 03:16

MIAMI – South Florida homeowners are hoping new legislation just passed in Tallahassee will provide some relief for steep homeowners insurance rates that have been skyrocketing.

When she moved to Fort Lauderdale a year ago, Echo Cunningham got the shock of her life when she saw her insurance bill.

"Because of the elevation I'm paying $12,000 for home insurance," she said.

It's four times the amount she left behind in Utah.

And that $12,000 premium only covers flood and wind, not the contents of her home – and she has a $25,000 deductible.

She's not sure she can stay.

"Not unless I find a job that pays substantially more than I make," she said.

Whether you are new to South Florida or a long timer, the cost of home insurance is steep and getting steeper.

But the new property insurance bill lawmakers just approved could help in the long run.

Among the changes, roofs with more than 25% damage will be repaired rather than replaced so claims will be less.

Also, $2 Billion is earmarked for the reinsurance fund, so in the event of a catastrophe insurers don't go under.

There will be limits on lawsuits, which some say has driven up the cost of insurance. And homeowners with property worth less than half a million dollars will be able to get back up to $10,000 for hardening property.

That includes things like getting impact windows, fortifying garages and replacing roofs.

"The language provides relief to the number of claims and the amount per claim and that will impact premiums," said independent insurance agent Steve Brooks.

Brooks believes the changes will result in premium reductions down the line and he thinks by fortifying the state 's catastrophic fund, it will result in more carriers re-entering the Florida market.

"If we are hit by another hurricane and do experience a catastrophic loss, there are safeguards in place otherwise we will be in dire straits," he said.

Cunningham hopes she can hold on until relief arrives, but is glad lawmakers are listening.

"At least they acknowledge the problem and are looking for solutions," she said.

The housing crisis is leaving many desperate for help. That's why CBS News Miami wants to share your stories to show the crisis you're in or how you navigated the system. We will highlight these issues and work to get answers and solutions. Send us an email at housing@cbs.com.  

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