As Tropical Storm/Hurricane Elsa takes aim at Florida, Florida Agriculture Commissioner and 2022 Florida Democrat gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried attacked Governor Ron DeSantis over recently signing a bill into law that modifies property insurance rules related to damage caused by storms.
SB 76, signed into law June 11, gives relief to a large sector of the state’s insurance industry. The law restructures litigation rules for disputed insurance claims; barring contractors, public adjusters, and companies from soliciting Florida homeowners to make an insurance claim for roof damage. The law also imposes a fine of up to $10,000 when companies violate the law. The measure also narrows the time frame in which homeowners can file claims, from three years to two years.
Today, Fried wrote on Twitter, “The Florida GOP lowers costs for the special interests and developers, but raises costs and taxes on consumers. I’m running for governor to break this corrupt system — working people shouldn’t foot the bill for policies rigged to enrich corporations.” Following was her retweet of a post by Florida Watch, a progressive digital communications platform, which described SB76 as a plan “designed to hike rates for hundreds of thousands of homeowners while making it easier for insurers to deny claims.”
The governor’s Press Secretary Christina Pushaw fired back, “Give it up already. You have been talking about this for 2 months but failed to show any evidence that @GovRonDeSantis ever “raised taxes on consumers.” @PolitiFact already rated your attack MOSTLY FALSE. (It is entirely false),” followed by a link to the PolitiFact story.
The governor’s Deputy Communications Director Jason Mahon said in a statement to The Capitolist the governor felt it was important for SB76 to become law because of the dramatic increase in insurance costs due to frivolous litigation.
He pointed to a study by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which found that while Florida accounts for eight percent of all homeowners’ claims opened by insurance companies in the U.S., in 2019 Florida had more than 76 percent of all litigation against insurers nationwide.
“Anyone who looks at that data can see that this is a broken system,” he said.
“We want to make certain that Floridians have access to property insurance that is both reliable and affordable. Right now, we have a situation in our state where homeowners are paying more for their property insurance, and yet insurance companies are suffering massive losses,” said the bill’s sponsor, Senator Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton). “One of the biggest drivers of rate increases is the extraordinary number of roofing claims in Florida. This bill provides a needed update to roofing policies to both protect homeowners and prevent the abuse of claims by predatory attorneys and contractors.”
DeSantis said at the bill signing, “I’m proud to sign SB 76 today to continue our mission of insurance reform in Florida. Since my first days in office, I have been committed to doing whatever it takes to reduce the burden of property insurance on Florida families.”