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South Florida Homeowners In The Midst Of A Property Insurance Crisis

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – George Colbert has lived 16 years in his Wilton Manors home.

As flooding has increased, he's seen his flood insurance rates go up. And that's not all.

"I canceled my windstorm policy when it got too high," he said. "And when I talked to my neighbors, the process of putting in a claim was a hassle."

Colbert isn't alone. South Florida homeowners are in the midst of a property insurance crisis.

State lawmakers say it is one of the most common complaints they've heard this year from homeowners.

Skyrocketing insurance rates and cancellations have homeowners frustrated.

The reasons are complex.

Florida has astronomical lawsuits over property insurance claims, which contributes to driving up the rates.

In addition, insurance companies are going under, leaving Florida, suspending new business, limiting coverage and canceling policies.

It's forced thousands more into Citizens, the state-run insurer of last resort.

"If you have nowhere else to go, you go into Citizens," said Paul Handerhan the president of the watchdog group FAIR, the Federal Association for Insurance Reform.

He said the state has to bolster the hurricane catastrophe fund before the start of hurricane season to keep struggling insurance companies afloat.

"There's only one answer and that's increase the CAT fund by June 1," he said.

State Rep. Tom Fabricio, R-103, agrees that the CAT fund needs to be strengthened.

He told CBS4 he thinks lawmakers will return later this year for a special session to address property insurance reform. He said with Citizen policies approaching 1 million, the risk to the state is too great.

"If a big catastrophic storm hits, the state would be on the hook for the claims," he said.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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