Miami Beach Mayor requests DeSantis to call for special session

by | Mar 18, 2022

 

 

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber on Friday penned a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, requesting that he convene lawmakers in Tallahassee for a special session regarding property insurance in the state, claiming that the rising issue was not touched on by legislators.

Florida’s property insurance has been especially volatile over the past year, losing a plethora of top policy writers including the liquidation of St. John’s Insurance and a pause on new policies by a number of regional insurers.

Florida’s capricious homeowner insurance market has led to a surge in policies at the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp., which was created under the pretense of it serving as a ‘last resort’ for consumers, but has grown to the level a dominant player in the market. As of Jan. 31, Citizens had 776,790 policies, about a 75 percent increase since 2020.

“I urge you to call a Special Session to address Florida’s skyrocketing windstorm insurance rates,” wrote Gelber. ” The issue touches millions of Floridians yet went wholly ignored this last legislative session. While there hasn’t been a major hurricane in Florida in years, somehow insurers continue to persuade lawmakers and regulators that double-digit increases are warranted. Homeowners, and renters who feel the pass-through cost of insurance, are feeling the pain of massive increases. For our fixed-income seniors, these costs are as unexpected as they are unaffordable.”

In a report published this year entitled “Battening Down: Policy Reforms to Avoid a Florida Insurance Meltdown“, the James Madison Institute examines the rise in Florida’s insurance costs while detailing several recommendations on how to curtail the growing trend.

The report, written by Christian Cámara, outlines how insurance rate increases have stemmed from behavior by stakeholders exploiting vulnerabilities in the law, highlighting meaningful steps the Florida Legislature has taken in recent years to combat the abuse and offering solutions to stabilize the insurance market and promote more investment, competition, and lower rates for Florida consumers.

“Despite the efforts of policymakers over the past several years, Florida’s property insurance market is quickly nearing a meltdown that will hurt millions of residents. Lawmakers deserve credit for addressing frivolous litigation and other abuses that have plagued the state’s insurance system and driven up rates on consumers, Cámara said. However, delays have allowed the situation to degrade further, to a place where insurers are reducing coverage, withdrawing from Florida, and even going insolvent. The Legislature must take meaningful steps this session to shore up the market and buy enough time for their recent reforms to begin having an impact. Florida’s insurance system cannot afford the cost of additional delays.”

Florida’s 2022 Legislative Session left several holes unfilled, including the aforementioned insurance issues, as well as the ongoing redistricting dispute.

These lapses in policy, among others, could require politicians to return to Tallahassee sooner rather than later.

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