By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH - Businesses aren't the only victims of the
insurance crisis, according to renters and homeowners who
participated in a business insurance forum in Holmes Beach
"We are not only losing our businesses, we're losing
our homes," said Don Schroder, chairman of the Anna
Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, whose personal insurance
has been cancelled, even though he's made no claims.
Add rising property taxes to the problem and there's an
economic tsunami sweeping people off the Island, he said.
Sheila Hurst, president of the Save Anna Maria citizens
group, and a renter in Holmes Beach, now pays $1,000 a month
in rent, up from $650 a month, because of an insurance increase.
"It needs to be addressed at every single level,"
On a larger scale, The Tampa Housing Authority, which houses
21,000 residents in federally-subsidized homes, is facing
a premium hike from $1.2 million to $2.6 million for its
federally-required insurance, spokesman Martin Williams
said, a cost increase that can't be passed on to the low-income
"At this rate of increase, we can start to consider
forgetting affordable housing in Florida," he said
to state Rep. Bill Galvano, who called the meeting. "We
are asking for a reprieve. Can public housing agencies be
Senior citizens on fixed Social Security incomes face a
problem similar to poor residents of public housing.
A 99-year-old resident of a Sarasota condominium complex
gets $700 a month in Social Security. The condo is facing
a premium increase from $18,000 to $43,000 a year, which
will hike individual condo dues by about $100 a month, condo
president Regina Smith said.
"Where will that $100 a month come from?" she
Anna Maria resident Bill Iseman found himself caught in
a different bind - he can't get homeowners insurance, which
covers fire, theft and other hazards, unless he has wind
insurance, which he can't get at all.
"At least give us the option of getting homeowners
insurance," he said.
Joe Callaghan of Holmes Beach suggests making insurance
premiums tax deductible for homeowners, anything to offset
Sandy Mattick operates the Pine Avenue General Store in
Anna Maria, and lives in the back. Since her insurance policy
was not renewed, she's without coverage for both her home
Her mortgage is with the previous owner of the property,
she said, who does not require her to carry insurance. People
with bank mortgages are not so fortunate and would be foreclosed
on if they lost their residential insurance.
And who would buy a home knowing it can't be insured? others
Some of Phil Baker's clients already have defaulted on their
"We've had real estate transactions terminated,"
said Baker, president of the Manatee County Independent
Insurance Agents Association.
"The residential real estate market is gone,"
said Gulfport City Manager Tom Brobeil, whose neighbors
are receiving non-renewal notices because their wood frame
homes were built before 1995.
"It's a historic community," he said, with a now-uninsurable
hotel on the National Register of Historic Places.
It's an easy equation, he says - taxes and insurance premiums
that are more than principal and interest payments equals
"This crisis is stealing our property," Anna Maria
resident and businessman Randall Stover said. "It's
literally running us out of house, home and business."