The Florida Senate's Banking and Insurance Committee made quick work last month of approving State Senator Jeff Brandes' bill that would open up the Florida market to private insurance companies offering flood insurance to homeowners. But now the bill's going back to the committee for a closer look, according to a report in the Gainesville Sun (see: "Florida's flood insurance bill goes back to drawing board," by Lloyd Dunkelberger).

Brandes' bill "is designed to draw more private companies into the market by giving them the ability to set rates in a largely deregulated environment," the Sun reports. "It also provides more coverage options—such as insuring the home for only its mortgage value rather than its full replacement cost. And it would expand the ability of surplus line companies, which operate outside of standard regulations, to offer flood insurance."

But the down side, some legislators worried, is that "consumers might find cheaper flood insurance coverage without being fully aware of the limitations of their new coverage plans or the lower degree of regulation on the insurance companies," the paper reports. So Brandes has agreed to work with other senators on provisions designed to protect insurance buyers.

Meanwhile, however, one insurance company that is already offering flood coverage in Florida is expanding its marketing efforts to other states, the Insurance Journal reports (see: "Private Flood Insurance Agency Now Selling in 15 States").

"According to Evan Hecht, CEO of The Flood Insurance Agency, located in Gainesville, Florida, with its latest expansion, his agency's alternative to the federal government's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is now available to more than 3.5 million NFIP policyholders," the Insurance Journal reports. The agency offers flood insurance policies underwritten by Lloyd's of London, which some mortgage lenders are accepting as sufficient to comply with lending requirements.

"Policies are now offered in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia," Insurance Journal reports. The company's website, www.privatemarketflood.com, supplies more information on premiums and policy language. According to the report, the agency plans to expand into more states in coming months.