Rallies Protest Sinkhole Insurance Rate Hikes

State Sen. Mike Fasano
State Sen. Mike Fasano, right, at Brooksville rally, with Rose Rocco, left
BROOKSVILLE (2011-8-16) -

The huge rate hikes proposed for state-run sinkhole insurance coverage sparked rallies today in Hernando and Pasco counties. They're protesting increases of more than 2,000 percent in some Tampa Bay counties.

Pasco State Senator Mike Fasano says the rallies have two goals: to put the cap back on Citizen's ability to exponentially increase sinkhole rates; and get a special session in Tallahassee to deal with sinkhole coverage. He likely won't have much luck with the latter; but Fasano says he's still hoping a public outcry at next month's public hearing in Tampa will help roll back the rate hikes.

He spoke during a rally in Hernando County, where some annual premiums could soar to more than $5,000.

"This is the epicenter, if you will, of how these rates will affect the most," says Fasano. "It's the Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Hillsborough and Pinellas county areas, where people who are struggling today are going to end up losing their homes."

Fasano says he recently heard from a senior citizen who said if the new rates are approved, she'd have to pay $4,000 more a year - which would send her home into foreclosure.

Former Hernando County Commissioner Rose Rocco said the increases could hurt her county particularly hard.

"People are leaving in droves. Because with these kinds of increases coming to them, no one can afford a $5,000 increase," says Rocco. "And a lot of mortgage companies are requiring it. So if you have a mortgage, and if your house is upside-down on what you owe and what it's worth, how are these people going to continue?"

The state Office of Insurance Regulation has scheduled a hearing on the proposed new rates for Citizens Insurance September 13th at the Tampa Convention Center.

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