- The Republican-controlled House voted 84-33 along party lines to pass the bill (SB 2-A) on the last day of a special legislative session.
- The measures were put forth during the second special session this year aimed at stabilizing the state’s beleaguered property insurance market
Reactions are rolling in following the conclusion of a three-day special legislative session in Tallahassee aimed at tackling the state’s flailing insurance industry and cracking down on litigation costs.
Following the Senate passing (24-13 vote) a massive home insurance bill yesterday that adds a $1 billion reinsurance fund for struggling insurers, limits attorneys’ fees in lawsuits and seeks to move homeowners from state-backed Citizens Property Insurance into the private market, the House reconvened on Wednesday to give up a thumbs up on the legislation.
In a 84-33 vote, the Florida House passed the property insurance overhaul. The legislation now heads to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign the bill.
While Republicans scored a win, others lambasted the proposals, saying they do little to address actual problems facing Florida policyholders — like providing immediate help for people facing huge rate increases.
Here are some of the biggest reactions from inside Florida’s political arena:
Speaker Paul Renner:
“This Special Session was all about relief. I am proud of the work the House did striking a difficult but careful balance to stabilize Florida’s property insurance market and the growth of Citizens Insurance. We have created more competition in the marketplace and have taken significant measures to reduce frivolous lawsuits, all while holding insurers accountable to consumers. The House also took important steps to provide disaster relief to Florida families recovering from Hurricanes Ian and Nicole and designed a toll relief program that saves Florida commuters money.”
Rep. Tom Leek:
“I am proud of the reforms we enacted during this special session. The carefully considered provisions in this legislation will expand capacity in the property insurance market, increase accessibility for consumers, and hold insurers accountable.”
Rep. Bob Rommel:
“We have a tremendous amount of consumer protections in the property insurance legislation. I appreciate Speaker Renner for supporting bringing forward a robust legislative package which is a great start toward stabilizing Florida’s property insurance market.”
Rep. Stan McClain:
“The Governor and First Lady have worked tirelessly on behalf of Floridians affected by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. Speaker Renner and our Senate partners have been dedicated to meaningfully adding to those disaster relief efforts. I look forward to working with our local partners across the state to understand their needs and assist in recovery.”
Democratic Leader Rep. Fentrice Driskell:
“We’re at a time where Florida has the largest budget surplus in its history, and rather than directly help homeowners, we provided a bailout to the industry.”
Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby:
“This is our second time convening a special session to address the property insurance crisis in our state. People need relief and legislative leadership is continuing to prioritize the insurance industry over everyday Floridians. We know this bill will not provide relief. Leader Driskell and the Democratic Caucus filed a bill and offered amendments to guarantee real relief and none were accepted.”
Florida Chamber of Commerce:
“The Florida Chamber applauds Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida’s House and Senate leaders for their continued efforts to stabilize Florida’s property insurance market and protect Florida’s consumers from hurricane taxes, diminishing coverage options and increasing affordability challenges. The passage of Florida Chamber-backed Senate Bill 2A protects Floridians by making significant strides towards long standing Florida Chamber priorities, specifically reining in Florida’s lawsuit abuse problems, eliminating cost drivers ripe for fraud such as assignment of benefits, and reducing future hurricane taxes by taking steps towards returning Citizens Property Insurance Corporation back to the insurer of last resort.”
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava:
“Unfortunately, the property insurance package legislators just passed does not provide the reform we need to bring down the cost of insurance, expand the number of insurers in the Florida market, or protect policyholders. Rather than bringing down Florida insurance rates – already the highest in the country, three times the national average – this package will only serve to increase premiums for Florida homeowners while providing even fewer consumer protections.”
The legislature needs to be more fair and balanced with these insurance reform bills.
I’m all for curbing frivolous lawsuits but see no point in eliminating the requirement that property insurers pay attorney fees of policyholders who successfully file lawsuits. That provision keeps insurers honest and responsive while still deterring frivolous suits by property owners.
Better to shorten the time that owners must bring claims following alleged damages. Crooked roofers often seem to suddenly find hail or wind damage years after significant storms. Shorten the time to bring a claim after an adverse event to six months. Damages should show up by then.
Doing away with “assignment of benefits” is wise, but subsidizing reinsurance for insurance companies will help keep policy premiums high, as will the requirement that homeowners take insurance offers that are up to 20% higher than Citizens. If the state has a big enough pool of revenue to subsidize insurers it should devote some of it to keeping rates low at Citizens, which would serve to bring insurers in line rather than devote subsidies to a comfy cushion of profits.