STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Let's go next to Florida, where homeowners could see their property insurance rates cut by as much as 40 percent under a plan passed yesterday by the state legislature. The savings will vary widely, depending on where people live and who their insurance company is. But we're still talking about savings.
Here's Florida Public Radio's James Call.
JAMES CALL: The 2004 and 5 hurricane seasons continue to wreak havoc in Florida. Eight storms caused $36 billion in losses. So companies raised rates. When bills quadrupled, residents complain. Lawmakers devised a plan to shift future losses from insurance companies to a state-created catastrophic fund.
Representative Ron Reagan says the legislature is betting the storm won't hit before the state can build up that fund.
State Representative RON REAGAN (Republican, Florida): We have no choice. If we're going to get rate relief, it's a gamble. We are gambling lower rates today on future assessments. That's what we're doing. But the insurance is a gamble. So if the wind does blow, everyone in the state of Florida will pay additional money.
CALL: The insurance law be offered only token resistance to the measure. Sam Miller is with the Florida Insurance Council.
Mr. SAM MILLER (Vice President, Florida Insurance Council): We said all along that the only thing would be an expanded state role, and the legislature has finalized that. They sure have done everything they could do. I mean…
CALL: Newly-elected Governor Charlie Crist promised to fix the state's property insurance crisis, and he's now willing to put the state on the hook for up to $36 billion if a Katrina-like storm were to hit.
Governor CHARLIE CRIST (Republican, Florida): I am a less government guy, but I also understand practical reality of where we are. We've had some dramatic couple of years that have put Floridians at risk. And we have an obligation to do everything we can to help them.
CALL: The bill now goes to Crist for his signature. He appeared with legislative leaders after they passed a bill and praised lawmakers' work.
For NPR News, I'm James Call in Tallahassee.
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