Mike Costner's home in Indian River County has withstood every hurricane to hit Florida since 1952. So he was perplexed to see his homeowners-insurance premiums go up — by more than 50 percent this year alone.
"Sticker shock," Costner said, "has turned into getting tasered."
Osceola County resident Dan Pearson told me his rates jumped 34 percent. Brevard's Linda Seals' went up 50 percent. Winter Springs' John Secor saw his double in the past two years.
And Orlando resident Scott Maxwell got news of a $700 increase just last week.
Fortunately for Maxwell (that's me), I found a way to shave that bill down by $1,000.
Fortunately for you, I'm going to tell you how.
But first, let's talk a bit about why Central Floridians are seeing massive increases — higher than most of the state. And most of America.
First, you have to accept that we live in a disaster-prone state. Insurance companies like to point that out.
But it's always been that way. Florida hasn't moved.
Instead, the skyrocketing rates are the result of a confluence of things: shoddy decisions and poor planning by the politicians; big profits and financial games played by the insurance companies; and the new way the industry has decided to assign risk — a major shakedown for those of us in Central Florida.
Let's start with the insurance companies.
Every year, they cry poor mouth — whether hurricanes come through or not.
Don't be fooled. Most insurance companies still make out quite well.
In fact, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune won a Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles about how the entire industry "is, at every level, rigged against consumers."
The series cited companies shipping money out of state, secretive rate manipulations and some companies that were so financially weak, they couldn't make all their payments if they had to.
But I wanted to hear from the industry itself.
So I reached out to Locke Burt, the president of Security First Insurance — the company that tried to jack up my premiums $700.
Burt claims his industry is a victim as well. And in some regards, he's right.