Just a week after Gov. Ron DeSantis stated that he would call lawmakers back to the Capitol in April to resolve redistricting conflicts, Sen. Jeff Brandes is calling to put in place a second special session to pass legislation regarding property insurance.
St. John’s Insurance was deemed insolvent in February by the Florida Department of Financial Services and will soon be subject to liquidation, bringing the number of Florida property insurance firms in liquidation is up to seven since 2014.
“Florida’s private property insurance market has collapsed, and it is evident we must call a special session to address this dire situation,” said Brandes in a letter to Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls. “In the past 30 days, thousands of Floridians have had their homeowners insurance company exit Florida. Over 80,000 homeowners cannot find insurance aside from Citizens Property Insurance. With the 2022 hurricane season quickly approaching and an unstable market, the Legislature chose to leave homeowners exposed to a perfect storm of rising rates, limited coverage, and diminishing options.”
Last week, insurance regulators deliberated a request made by state-backed insurance writer Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to raise rates by nearly 11 percent. The request comes as the number of policies proliferates as a growing number of insurance agencies have entered liquidation or are refusing to write new policies within Florida.
“The special session should address the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund in the short term to reduce rates, provide a financing mechanism for insurers to access if the capital markets are not an option, and include significant property insurance reforms in order to create a sustainable environment for Florida homeowners,” wrote Brandes. “Additionally, the Session should address Citizens Property insurance reform, as Citizens estimates policy count is growing by 6,000 policies a week and will soon top 1 million.”
Citizens Insurance, the state-backed property insurance agency intended to serve as a last-resort option rather than one that is able to take on an influx of new policy, projects to have more than 1 million policies by the end of this year.
As of last week, Citizens had 801,341 policies, up from 570,000 a year ago.
Simpson told reporters on March 11 that the Senate had a “pretty good bill” on property insurance and that there is a chance lawmakers would be called back to Tallahassee as “we have many companies going out of business.”
Those comments, however, were followed by Simpson saying that the few property insurance changes made during the 2021 session need time to take hold.