Video: Florida lawmakers tackle insurance crisis

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 1/16/2007 7:55:36 PM ET 2007-01-17T00:55:36

In Florida, homeowners are fighting mad, protesting Tuesday outside a special session of the state legislature. They're afraid the high cost of property insurance could cost them their homes.

Newly-elected Gov. Charlie Crist promises relief and blames the insurance companies.

"They've had a $60 billion profit in the past year, and they expect us to believe they can't lower rates?" says Crist.

But, the insurance industry says the real villain is bad weather — eight Florida hurricanes in just two years.

"Homeowners insurance in Florida is the most dangerous insurance business in the world," says Sam Miller with the Florida Insurance Council.

Insurers have cancelled tens of thousands of Florida policies and doubled or tripled their rates.

"I had to borrow against my credit card to pay my homeowners insurance bill," says Chris Kowalczyk of Hudson, Fla.

Chris Kowalczyk's bill went from $1,800 to $5,300 and now he could be forced to move.

The insurance crisis also affects Florida businesses. Cancelled policies and skyrocketing rates have some owners threatening to leave the state.

Tino Mastry's insurance bill is so high he may move his engine distribution company from St. Petersburg to Georgia.

"It's going to hurt the state of Florida," he says. "It's revenue lost."

Other hurricane states are closely watching Florida, where the legislature is considering:

For Ken and Nancy Wessel in Largo, Fla., the stakes are high. Facing high insurance rates, their retirement dream home is now for sale.

"It leaves us with a feeling of, 'What are we going to do?'" says Nancy.

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