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RISMEDIA, July 7, 2009-“The availability and affordability of property insurance is, at its core, a consumer issue,” said 2009 Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR) President Cynthia Shelton, testifying on the need for a national disaster insurance policy to the U.S. House Financial Services Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee during a hearing late last week in West Palm Beach. “The importance of available and affordable insurance to homeowners, commercial property owners, and those who would like to own their own home or place of business cannot be overstated.”

Speaking on behalf of Florida’s Realtors, Shelton explained the impact of property insurance costs on real estate sales, the “linchpin of a healthy economy.” She told lawmakers that mortgage lenders demand insurance coverage; therefore, the high cost of insurance directly impacts how much a buyer can afford and eventually hurts property values.

“Florida Realtors believe that now is the time for Congress to consider a national natural disaster policy,” said the FAR president. “(We) would like to see a healthy and vigorous debate… I am very proud that Congressman Ron Klein (D-Fla.) introduced The Homeowners’ Defense Act of 2009 with more than 40 co-sponsors from 21 states… H.R. 2555 is a new and refreshing approach in providing more than thirty states with the opportunity to pool their risk of natural disasters.

“We are also very excited about the U.S. Department of Housing and Development (HUD) program to provide grants to states and local governments that develop, enhance, or maintain programs to prevent and mitigate losses from natural catastrophes. Florida Realtors have long advocated increased mitigation efforts at the state and federal level.”

In addition to FAR President Shelton, the subcommittee heard testimony from Robert Delefsen, president of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies; Colleen Repetto, director of Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe; former state Sen. Steve Geller; Ray Spudeck, chief economist for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation; and Vicki Williams, outreach coordinator of My Safe Florida Home.

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