By Gray Rohrer
FloridaPolitics.com
April 5, 2022

‘Prices are rising and Floridians are hurting, but Gov. DeSantis is ignoring the problem.’

Rep. Charlie Crist

Rep. Charlie Crist, a Democratic candidate for Governor, slammed Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday for not pushing to fix Florida’s troubled property insurance market, which has seen steep rate hikes for most homeowners

“Prices are rising and Floridians are hurting, but Gov. DeSantis is ignoring the problem — he’d rather focus on culture wars and his 2024 political ambitions,” Crist said in a released statement.

Five companies last year opted not to renew more than 120,000 policies, and another company, St. Johns Insurance Co., went insolvent. Although St. Johns’ policies were taken on by Slide Insurance Co., those moves put pressure on the rest of the market, which received large rate increases by state regulators, driven mostly by surges in roof claims and litigation costs.

DeSantis has said if the Legislature can come to an agreement on insurance reforms he’ll sign it into law, but the Special Session he called to address congressional redistricting that starts April 19 won’t include property insurance or any other subject. Also, the reforms pushed in the last Legislative Session would not have immediately lowered premiums.

“Gov. DeSantis has turned a deaf ear to the insurance crisis facing our state. When I was Governor, I lowered property insurance premiums,” Crist said. “And when I’m elected, I’ll do it again.”

The GOP-led Legislature considered some changes to the market during its 60-day Session that ended last month, but ultimately couldn’t pass anything. The Senate advanced SB 1728, which would have installed a new roof-only deductible for new policies — a provision endorsed by the DeSantis administration. But the House was skeptical of the measure.

Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier, however, said during last week’s Cabinet meeting that he’s allowing insurers to offer the roof deductible as an option for customers.

Other parts of the bill were aimed at making Citizens Property Insurance, a state-run company, have rates more in line with the private market. Citizens is designed to be an insurer of “last resort” — an insurer for homes the private market won’t cover.

But Citizens’ rates are capped at 10% increases per year, while some large private companies have seen rates rise by more than 30% in parts of the state. That’s pushed homeowners into Citizens rather than the private market.

GOP lawmakers have sought to keep the Citizens policy count low, because if a large enough hurricane hits the state and erases its $6.5 billion surplus, assessments would be placed on all homeowner and auto policies in the state to pay for the claims.

Crist has tangled with Florida’s complex property insurance market before. When he was a Republican Governor from 2007-2011, he famously said “good riddance” to State Farm. At that time, the insurance giant threatened to leave the state in the face of Crist’s refusal to soften regulations or allow larger rate hikes as the market rebounded from the massive losses stemming from the damaging 2004-2005 storm seasons.

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Mark Tomes
Mark Tomes
4 months ago

It is time to expand the Citizens Property Insurance program, not contract it. The private insurance industry is being controlled by a cartel of fewer and fewer companies, who have control of most of our conservative politicians (and some more progressive ones, too). A small fee contributed by millions of citizens to a large public insurance option would generate hundreds of billions of dollars that could easily absorb the cost of the few areas that get hit by hurricanes, tornadoes, sinkholes, etc. it is obvious that free market capitalism has not worked with property insurance in Florida, so it is time to expand the cooperative option.

randy mcgee
randy mcgee
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tomes

Regardless of any plan, it will ultimately be the home owners/taxpayers who will pay the brunt of it. My thought is to have all the tourists that come to Florida also share by increasing tourism taxes and fees.

Doug Mowery
Doug Mowery
4 months ago
Reply to  randy mcgee

You have that correct, Randy. Hopefully, this statement above resonates with all:

GOP lawmakers have sought to keep the Citizens policy count low, because if a large enough hurricane hits the state and erases its $6.5 billion surplus, assessments would be placed on all homeowner and auto policies in the state to pay for the claims.

Every owner of a vehicle or property with insurance in this state will be assessed a fee regardless of their carrier (if I read that correctly). We will all pay…..

Drew Skonberg
Drew Skonberg
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tomes

Just wondering about how your math might work? While I agree with the concept, as per usual with politics, the devil’s in the details. Your proposed solution unfortunately comes up far short. For a small fee of let’s call it $100.00 times the 10 million homes in Florida we come to 1 billion dollars. Plus, do we charge the $30 million Naples home the same as the condo unit? Curious on how this would shake out?

randy mcgee
randy mcgee
4 months ago

No thanks to RE-Run Charlie, says one thing does another…that is why he switched to be a democrat….

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