A committee of the Florida Senate has approved a revision of state laws regulating homeowners’ insurance policies. The package promises lower taxes as a result of the changes, but likely means higher rates and reduced coverage now, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (“ Insurance bills mean consumers pay more for less coverage). “As property insurance lobbyists celebrated with handshakes and back-slaps, the Republican-controlled Legislature pushed forward Tuesday with legislation intended to help Florida's struggling carriers, while offering consumers higher rates, reduced hurricane coverage, limited rights to challenge carriers and the public burden of paying for sinkhole damage,” the paper reported. Among the changes in the bill: a change in the name of Florida’s state-backed insurer of last resort from “Citizens Property Insurance” to “Taxpayer Funded Property Insurance” — a change that Senator J. D. Alexander, Republican from Lake Wales, put forward because, he said, “Lawmakers need to have some fun,” according to the Orlando Sun Sentinel (“ Sweeping property insurance package headed to full Senate,” by Julie Patel). In the event that Citizens could not afford to pay claims after a major hurricane, deficits would be made up either by borrowing on the bond market or by state-imposed fees applied to commercial market-rate insurance policies. “Citizens officials have warned their premiums aren't high enough to cover all their payouts in the case of a huge hurricane or series of storms,” reports the Bradenton Herald (“ Property insurance reform bill passes final Senate committee with name change for Citizens by Janet Zink). “That means all insurance policy holders, including those that aren't in Citizens, would have to pick up the tab.” The bill also lets private insurers off the hook from a requirement to offer coverage for sinkholes, a significant risk for some Florida homes. Instead, however, Citizens (now to be known as “Taxpayer Funded”) will have to offer sinkhole coverage, reports the Miami Herald (“ Property insurance reform bill gains steam,” by Janet Zink). Meanwhile, rates are immediately going to rise for some Florida policyholders, reports the Miami Herald (“ Florida approves 18 percent rate hike for State Farm,” by Jeff Harrington). “The higher rates, which are less than the 28 percent boost State Farm sought, will take effect July 1 for new business and beginning July 15 for renewals. Separately, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty approved a 62 percent increase for State Farm’s commercial residential policies, which cover homes that are owned by a person or business entity and rented to others.” Floridians already pay some of the highest property insurance rates in the nation, reports the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (“ Insurance rates weigh heavily on homeowners, “In Monroe County, Florida regulators have approved private insurance rates as high as $13,000 a year on a $150,000 house -- more than a standard mortgage. Premiums elsewhere on the coast, including in Sarasota County, have doubled and tripled in the last five years.”