(The Center Square) — Governor Ron DeSantis will convene a special session next month to address property insurance reform, he said Monday at a news conference in Jacksonville, where he also announced funding for a trauma center at the University of Florida.
This is the second special session DeSantis has called this year. Next month, the legislature will meet to discuss the redistricting. From now on, it will also deal with property insurance. And that could solve additional problems, DeSantis said.
This year’s regular legislative session was very productive, DeSantis said, but there were issues the legislature was working on that “didn’t quite cross the finish line.” He said if the legislature could “get to a place where we can hit [these issues] through we would absolutely do a special session,” including property insurance reform. This would hopefully “bring in some common sense and stabilize a functioning market,” he said.
The governor said he was confident “we’re going to be able to make it happen,” adding that he will sign a proclamation this week to set dates for a special session in May. The main focus will be on property insurance reform, he said, but could include other issues, although he did not specify which.
Last year, the Legislature passed a property insurance reform bill, SB76, which DeSantis signed into law and took effect July 1.
It includes several provisions, including limiting the practices contractors can engage in, limiting plaintiffs’ attorney fees, requiring policyholders to file claims within two years of losses incurred, strengthening state oversight of affiliates of Florida property insurers, requiring Florida residential property insurers to file a full closed claims report, and raising the cap on Citizens Property Insurance Corp.’s annual rate increases. to a maximum of 15% in 2026, Florida Realtors Explain.
At a roundtable in Sarasota last June when he signed the bill, DeSantis said, “A lot of you know that over the last few decades there have been a lot of ups and downs. in this property insurance market in Florida”, Insurance Journal reported. “We saw a lot of problems. You’ve seen significant premium increases and you’re even seeing some homeowners have their policies canceled. They are thrown at the citizens. So we wanted to do something to stabilize that.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Jim Boyd, owner of Boyd Insurance & Investments in Bradenton, said in a press release: “Homeowners’ property insurance rates have increased by 20, 30, 40% or more. in some cases. Since 2013, $15 billion has been paid out in claims in Florida. Of those funds, 71% went to attorneys’ fees, 21% to insurers’ defense costs, and just 8% went to homeowners for their losses. Florida accounted for more than 76% of all landlord disputes in the country in 2019.”
The new law will help lower rates, he said, and “save our constituents their annual home insurance costs.”
“The property insurance market in Florida has been in crisis for years,” state Representative Bob Rommel said in a statement when the bill was signed into law. “In addition to weather events, malicious actors target homeowners and insurance companies. Over the past 7 years, insurance companies have paid out over $15 billion in claims, including over $10 billion in attorney fees.
“SB 76 is a big step towards stopping the abusive practices of these few bad actors, where they encourage landlords to file insurance claims or even lawsuits. We have over 1,100 people a day moving into Florida and we need to make sure that consumers have the ability to get affordable insurance policies from private companies and not just Citizens, which was originally the insurer of last resort.SB 76 will stabilize the market and should attract new insurers to Florida.
Industry groups released statements mostly expressing support for the new law.
However, Progress Florida executive director Mark Ferrulo released a statement criticizing him, saying that DeSantis “raised taxes for all Floridians by a billion dollars to fund tax cuts for the biggest corporations, raised property taxes to reduce impact fees for larger developers, and now it’s increasing property insurance rates for homeowners while making it easier for insurance companies to deny claims for damages and by forcing people out of citizens and into more expensive private plans.