WASHINGTON -- The costly destruction of Superstorm Sandy has inspired Florida members of Congress to make renewed attempts to create a national insurance pool to finance disaster recovery - and to help drive down costs for homeowners.
U.S. taxpayers have spent $250 billion over two decades to help Florida and other states recover from natural disasters, a big burden for a nation deep in debt.
Now New York officials are seeking $30 billion to help their state recover from Superstorm Sandy, and New Jersey officials, still assessing the damage, plan to ask for many billions more.
Proponents say a national insurance plan would spare taxpayers the brunt of such costs while making homeowner insurance more affordable, especially in storm-prone places such as Florida.
Consumers in the state would save on average $535 a year per household, according to a 2010 estimate by Milliman Inc., an actuarial consulting firm.
We think Sandy is a perfect reminder that we are paying for these things one way or another, said Jeff Grady, president of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents.
It's increasingly evident that state systems can't handle it, even in Florida, and we've got the most refined system of all, he said.
So you reach for the concept of spreading the risk more, pooling resources better and finding a way to pre-fund the event.
Soaring insurance premiums after several hurricanes hit Florida in 2004 and 2005 shook the dream of homeownership.
Rising rates, along with higher property taxes, aggravated the housing crisis, which led to the Great Recession and made owning a home in the Sunshine State seem more like a trap than a good investment.