Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate
Director of External Affairs Denishia Sword, Middle Keys Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Christine Todd Young, ICA Carter, Marathon City Manager George Garrett

FIRM hosted Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Tasha Carter and Director of External Affairs Denishia Sword this week in Monroe County. The purpose of the visit was to illustrate the resilient building practices that are standard in the Florida Keys.

Like the visit in August by Citizens representatives, FIRM’s goal was to point out that Monroe County, which has the strictest building code in Florida, continues to see the highest windstorm premium rates in the state. Approximately 95% of all windstorm policies in Monroe County are with Citizens, the state’s insurer of last resort, because there are few, if any,  private insurance options.

This inequity is hitting residents who live in affordable and workforce housing particularly hard.  The cost of property insurance is making it increasingly difficult for those residents to qualify. If they make enough money to afford the insurance, they make too much money to qualify for the program.

During the-two day visit, Ms. Carter met with Rep. Jim Mooney,  local elected leaders and staff, FIRM board members and Lower Keys Stakeholders. She visited Middle Keys Habitat for Humanity project Bell Haven, which won a national sustainability award, as well as properties in Big Pine Key and Big Coppitt.

Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate
ICA Carter, Marathon Mayor Luis Gonzalez, Christine Todd Young and Mel Montagne

Before departing, Ms. Carter and her staff took part in a Lower Keys Stakeholder Meeting that included City of Key West Director of Housing and Community Affairs Tina Burns, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Inspector Michelle Maxwell who oversees the housing project in Key West on Trumbo Road, and AH Monroe Executive Director Scott Pridgen. The three reiterated that building to the highest construction standards and still seeing astronomical property insurance rates is their most significant challenge.

ICA Carter described the meetings and site visits as eye-opening and educational.

“I was impressed by the focus that Monroe County places on disaster mitigation, resiliency and recovery,” she wrote in a follow-up letter.

Seeing the challenges first-hand helped her to understand the impact of the cost of insurance on our residents.

Ms. Carter concluded “…the targeted solutions you presented are reasonable and feasible and I plan to strategically champion them before the Florida Legislature.”

Upon returning to Tallahassee, the Office of Insurance Consumer Advocate created a survey asking for input from Monroe County residents. The survey data supported what she learned during the visit to Monroe County.

Over the years FIRM has cultivated a positive relationship with ICA Carter, and as a result she has spoken on behalf of Monroe County residents at the Citizens Rate Hearing, CFO Patronis’s legislative team and to lawmakers during the legislative session.

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