A particular session on Florida’s property insurance coverage disaster would have been a good suggestion final yr.
However Gov. DeSantis and Republican lawmakers had different priorities.
They focused LGBTQ youth and election fraud that doesn’t exist in Florida. They outlawed so-called “sanctuary cities” that don’t exist in Florida.
A particular session on Florida’s property insurance coverage disaster nonetheless would have been a good suggestion 4 months in the past throughout this yr’s legislative session, and even one month in the past within the final particular session.
However Gov. DeSantis and Republicans had different priorities.
They focused LGBTQ youth — once more. They restricted how faculties and firms discuss race. They made it simpler for fogeys to problem faculty textbooks. They punished The Walt Disney Firm for belatedly opposing the “don’t say homosexual” invoice. They restricted abortion rights. Legislators capitulated to the governor and accepted his gerrymandered map for congressional districts.
In the meantime, the insurance coverage disaster worsened. Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, mainly shamed his GOP colleagues into calling a particular session. It begins Monday and is meant to final by Friday.
So now, up in opposition to a key June 1 deadline for the property insurance coverage business, DeSantis and the Republicans lastly say they need to deal with an actual situation that, straight and not directly, impacts each Floridian and the state’s financial system.
DeSantis and GOP legislative leaders had promised that the session’s principal payments can be filed by Thursday. As of Friday afternoon, nonetheless, no main payments had been but obtainable for public assessment.
“It’s legislative malpractice to cope with insurance coverage this manner,” mentioned state Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton. No subject, Polsky mentioned, attracts extra questions and feedback when she speaks to group teams.
Polsky mentioned the Legislature ought to have devoted its week-long committee conferences — held as soon as a month — to insurance coverage a very long time in the past. Legislators ought to have heard testimony “from all stakeholders,” not simply the insurance coverage business. “That is far too difficult a problem,” Polsky mentioned, “for it to be rushed.”
Legislators may need thought they had been performed with property insurance coverage after final yr. Two payments sought to deal with the claims fraud that corporations blame for rising charges. Home Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, killed a follow-up invoice this yr as a result of he wished extra time for the 2021 laws to take impact.
However simply since January, three insurers have gone below. A fourth, Dawn-based FedNat, was downgraded and needed to drop 68,000 insurance policies on the eve of hurricane season.
So even DeSantis needed to stand down from tradition wars and attempt to move critical laws. It will likely be a heavy carry for a governor and a celebration which have rammed their controversial payments by the Legislature with out caring what others suppose.
Insurance coverage, although, is critical laws. Right here’s the way it shapes up:
Corporations consider that Florida permits too many fraudulent claims. They cite statistics that the state has 8% of claims annually however 70% of claims-related lawsuits. Take the attorneys out of it, the carriers say, and issues will probably be high-quality.
Attorneys and public adjusters — whom householders can appoint to barter their claims — reply that they become involved solely when insurers refuse to pay professional claims.
Then there’s reinsurance, which insurance coverage corporations purchase to cowl losses from main storm or a number of storms in a single yr. It’s like bookies shedding bets.
These contract renewals come on June 1. As a result of DeSantis and the Legislature delayed so lengthy, insurers do not know what to anticipate and the right way to worth it.
Not like insurance coverage in Florida, reinsurance operates on an unregulated international market. Hurricane Ida hitting Louisiana and winter storms hitting Texas final yr precipitated losses that drove up the price of reinsurance and the worth of insurance policies in Florida.
For 30 years, since Hurricane Andrew hit southern Miami-Dade County, Florida has primarily based property insurance coverage choices on what the business desires. To a level, it’s made sense. Extra corporations would imply a extra aggressive market.
However it’s previous time to cease pretending that Florida ever can have a traditional property insurance coverage market. That is very true given the consequences of local weather change.
Florida, nonetheless, desires a functioning actual property market. Prohibitively expense insurance coverage may disrupt that.
So we provide these solutions:
- No matter occurs this week, begin engaged on follow-up laws after the election. Take the lengthy look that didn’t occur in 2021 and 2022.
- Contemplate enormously growing the reinsurance provided by the Florida Hurricane Disaster Fund. Lower out the worldwide corporations as a lot as potential.
- Contemplate requiring insurers in Florida to write down all traces of companies, not simply the profitable auto insurance policies. Floridians pay the second-highest share of their revenue towards auto insurance coverage in comparison with residents of different states.
- No matter actions the Legislature takes towards lowering fraud, require corporations to move these financial savings on to clients.
DeSantis mentioned, “We’re not going to just accept something lower than a really vital bundle for the folks of Florida.” However a key DeSantis ally, insurance coverage business lobbyist Fred Karlinsky, informed reporters this week that charges gained’t be coming down no matter Tallahassee does.
DeSantis, who’s working an unacknowledged marketing campaign for president in 2024, has been exhibiting off for Republican tradition warriors nationwide. On property insurance coverage, he should put that apart and act just like the governor of a state in disaster.
The Solar Sentinel Editorial Board consists of Editorial Web page Editor Steve Bousquet, Deputy Editorial Web page Editor Dan Sweeney, and Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson. Editorials are the opinion of the Board and written by certainly one of its members or a designee. To contact us, e mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.