By Christine Jordan Sexton
February 5, 2022
‘If we fail, because of whatever special interests, then we’ve only failed our citizens.’
Senate President Wilton Simpson on Thursday said his chamber continues to make the state’s property insurance market a priority and warned that things could worsen if the Legislature does not act this Session.
The Senate will produce another property bill and Simpson said that he is hopeful the House will take it up before lawmakers adjourn the 2022 Session in March.
“There is something we have to do to get to this fraud,” Simpson told reporters after the Senate adjourned. “And it’s the only way we are going to bring down these prices. If we fail, because of whatever special interests, then we’ve only failed our citizens.”
Simpson said if the Legislature does not pass a bill this year, rates will rise upward of 20%.
During debate over property insurance in the Senate Wednesday, Sen. Jeff Brandes said that Gov. Ron DeSantis was not paying attention as homeowners get hit with huge rate hikes and insurers are opting to stop writing policies in the Sunshine State.
“Frankly, we have to get the Governor to get engaged on this to a level that, to date, he has not been engaged at,” Brandes said during debate.
Brandes told Florida Politics after the meeting that House Republicans and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis are not stepping forward to address the crisis either. He said he does not even know who in the Governor’s Office is even paying attention to property insurance legislation.
Devin Galetta, a spokesperson for Patronis, said the CFO has “rolled out major initiatives for protecting consumers and fighting premium increases.”
Neither DeSantis’ office nor House Speaker Chris Sprowls’ office responded to a request for a comment from Florida Politics by press time.
Florida’s property insurance market has already been called “dire” by the state Insurance Commissioner. Meanwhile, the number of homeowners shifting to the state-created Citizens Property Insurance Corporation has been growing larger. The Office of Insurance Regulation in 2020 approved more than 50 rate hikes that were 10% or larger.
Brandes is term-limited out of office after the 2022 Legislative Session and has become a maverick, bucking Simpson publicly.
Simpson, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner, agreed with Brandes that there is an urgent need to act, but he did not openly criticize his Republican brethren.