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South Florida property owners can expect property insurance rates to increase because the Florida Legislature failed to enact laws to curb abuses by contractors and trial attorneys, two insurance industry trade associations are saying.

In a statement released as the session drew to a close last week, the Florida Property & Casualty Association blamed Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, for failing to bring up a bill that would have “prevented a handful of vendors and their lawyers from stealing homeowners’ insurance policy rights and using them to pad their own pockets.”

“Now, as a result, even without a hurricane making landfall, property insurance rates are set to skyrocket for all Floridians while a small group of greedy vendors and their lawyers get rich. Florida deserves better,” the association said.

Diaz de la Portilla, in an interview Monday, shot back at the insurance industry, saying he brokered a compromise bill intended to rein in abuses. But the industry “showed their true colors,” he said, by rejecting the compromise because it did not eliminate the ability of homeowners to assign benefits of their policies to third-party contractors.

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