This year my storm insurance has increased by about double the rate I have seen in the last six years. The premium for storm insurance for the upcoming hurricane season will increase nearly 30%, or more than $400, from the previous year, an amount that has more than doubled since 2016.
No, this is not a waterfront house. And no, a windstorm claim has never been made on this property. Instead, it’s typical of something happening all over Florida this year.
People look at their mortgage payment adjustments every year and often assume the increase is the result of higher taxes. But anyone who takes a closer look at the numbers will find that property insurance rates are the biggest source of increased monthly house payments.
It’s not like Florida lawmakers don’t realize that. Legislation passed last year addressed some of the insurance issues, and this year additional legislation was debated, but lawmakers were too busy fighting the culture wars to think it was too important.
Insurance measures were lacking when Gov. Ron DeSantis called for a special session to address his redistricting demands, but a strong bipartisan push has emerged to deal with insurance costs now rather than wait for the regular session of next year. Feeling he should stand before that parade, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday called for another special session next month on a developing homeowners insurance crisis.
The governor told a press conference in Jacksonville that he wanted to “bring some common sense and stabilize” the property insurance market in Florida. Sanity is a big ask – it’s Florida – but stability would be appreciated.
Like over 800,000 other Floridians, my windstorm insurance is Citizens Property Insurance, a state-backed company that’s supposed to be the “insurer of last resort,” but is now the insurer of most stations.
Citizens was a 2002 creation of the Florida Legislature. This was necessary because the private storm insurance market in Florida collapsed due to repeated bad hurricane seasons. I’m still a bit amused looking back that socialized windstorm insurance coverage was one of Governor Jeb Bush’s significant accomplishments.
I’ve been with Citizens since 2004. Every year they invite me to take my stuff somewhere else. They even try to hook me up somewhere else. I try not to take this personally and turn them down every year after reviewing insurance operations that have been in business for easily over a month.
Citizens have a legislative mandate to get rid of politics and shrink. But instead of getting rid of dodgy customers like me, Citizens has instead grown because smaller storm insurers have closed and gone out of business at an alarming rate.
There are many culprits to Florida’s insurance crisis: fraud, litigation, roofing costs, roofing scams, and active hurricane seasons are the most commonly cited.
A law was passed last year but had no effect. House Speaker Chris Sprows tried to argue that no special session was needed because the bill did a great job. He does not have. Much of this bill remains stalled in federal court.
It’s good news that a special session is scheduled to deal with a handy pocket problem. But what to do about it is still unclear. Some limits on roofing payments seem likely. But it remains to be seen whether these proposals would hit post-disaster homeowners harder than fraudsters and savvy operators. Certainly new anti-fraud tools must be part of the package.
For now, it’s one thing to call a special session. It’s harder to find something to do during a special session. Plenty here for one owner to look at.
mark the way
USA TODAY NETWORK – FLA.