The city of Cape Coral, along with the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral, will host a town hall meeting Tuesday evening focused on homeowners insurance rates and the outcome of the 2022 special legislative session.
"Homeowners insurance and its affordability is becoming an issue of concern throughout the state of Florida," Donna Germain, president and CEO of the chamber, said in a news release. "We want to provide a forum for our residents to have their questions answered and gained the most up-to-date information following this special legislative session."
Gov. Ron DeSantis, who called lawmakers back to Tallahassee in May to tackle the issue during a special legislative session, on May 26 signed a law aimed to help Florida's property insurance market.
The legislation creates a $2-billion fund to help insurers pay potential hurricane damage claims, adds limits on insurance lawsuits and permits policies with separate deductibles for roof damage.
Councilmember Gloria Tate, who is helping to organize Tuesday's event, said the goal of the town hall is to "unpackage what was voted on, so we can all understand it on the same level."
She said many residents have contacted her regarding insurance costs and how the new legislation will affect insurance on roofs.
The meeting is free and open to the public on Tuesday, June 7, at the Cape Coral Yacht Club.
Check-in starts at 6:00 p.m., and the program will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Guest panelists include state representatives Mike Giallombardo and Bob Rommel, Brian Chapman, CEO of Chapman Insurance Group, and James Barfield, owner of Barfield Insurance.
"We would like to know what they have heard from insurance companies now that they're making these new laws that insurance companies are going to have to live with," Tate told The News-Press.
Tate said many people in the city have experienced increases in property insurance costs and cancellations, so a Q&A session will take place after the panel. Tate encourages residents to email her questions about their insurance bills at [email protected].
"I have two insurance agents that are going to be there, and we encourage people to meet with them, bring their bills if they have them or if they have questions about their bills," Tate said.
Chapman told The News-Press the No. 1 issue Florida is facing is significant rent increases.
Chapman said the main reason for higher increases is that escrow accounts, which pay taxes and insurance, are coming up short, resulting in what amounts to an additional monthly payment on residents' mortgage, taxes and insurance.
He said Cape Coral residents are experiencing an average increase of 35%.
"So $1,000 policies are now $1,350, $2,000 policies are $2,600," Chapman said.
However, some residents, like those with new houses and roofs, are not experiencing the same drastic increases, he said.
"There are certain segments that are seeing like 60%, 50%, and then there are other segments that are seeing like 10%."
Chapman will be available to answer questions, though he said he could only speak as a policy writer for carriers.
"I can't speak to exactly what the issues are directly for the carriers, but what I can speak to is the shortage of availability of a product, meaning we don't have as many carriers today. In the last 30 months, we've had nine solvencies, the rate increases that we're facing, the importance of updates to your home, particularly the roof, how the insurance industry is viewing age of a roof."
Luis Zambrano is a Watchdog/Cape Coral reporter for The News-Press and the Naples Daily News. You can reach Luis at [email protected] or 239-266-5604. Follow him on Twitter @Lz2official.