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Q

I am a snowbird and only carry car insurance for three months. Why is my insurance carrier charging me $27 for three months for a total of $82.50 for FHCF? Is this correct?


A

Without knowing the details of your policy, such as the total premium being paid for the three months that you carry Florida car insurance, we can't accurately tell you if you are being assessed the right amount or not.

Pursuant to section 215.555 of the Florida statutes, if you have a Florida car insurance policy you have to pay the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund Emergency Assessment (FHCF). The amount you pay for the FHCF is based on a percentage of your premium; currently in 2011 the state has set the surcharge for the FHCF at 1.3% of your premium amount.

To calculate if you are being charged the right amount, you need to look at what the premium alone is on your auto insurance policy and see if the $82.50 is 1.3% of that amount. The FHCF assessment surcharge is more than last year because from 2007 to 2010 it was only 1% of your premium.

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If you find that your FHCF is higher than 1.3% of your premium amount it may be due to another type of FHCF surcharge. Beyond the FHCF Emergency Assessment, which recoups funds deficiencies due to previous hurricane season shortfalls, there could be a separate Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund Recoupment Surcharge.

This second type of FHCF surcharge, which can be up to 6% of your premium amount, is permitted to be built into your rate or charged separately. This assessment amount varies by the insurance company's level of participation and your policy's effective date.

It is possible that your current car insurance carrier shows this fee as part of the total FHCF assessment, making it higher than you thought it should be. Other Florida auto insurance companies may build it into your total premium, which means with them your actual car insurance rates would be higher but your FHCF assessment would show as being lower.

Ultimately, to get a breakdown of your FHCF amount, to make sure you are being charged correctly, you will need to speak to your car insurance agent. If you still have questions, then contact the Florida insurance regulator for consumer advice.

If your agent is not able to explain your assessments or fulfill your car insurance needs, contact a CarInsurance.com agent and they can explain not only insurance terms and surcharges but also tell you how they can get you low cost car insurance in Florida.


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