DeSantis wants special session on property insurance

By Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday he will call a May special legislative session to address problems in the property-insurance system that have led to homeowners losing coverage and getting hit with large rate increases.

DeSantis made the announcement during an appearance in Jacksonville but did not immediately specify the dates for the session. The announcement came a day before lawmakers gather for a special session to redraw congressional districts.

DeSantis indicated the insurance session would try to “bring some sanity and stabilize and have a functioning market.”

“I’m confident that we’re going to be able to get that done,” DeSantis said while announcing money for a new trauma center at UF Health Jacksonville. “I am not confident we’d be able to punch it through this week. But what I will be signing this week is a proclamation to set the dates for a special session in May. We’re going to work with the legislative leaders on those dates, and it will have as the main focus the reform of the property-insurance market.”

DeSantis said the special session could address other issues that did not get resolved during the regular legislative session, which ended March 14. Among the high-profile issues that did not pass were a plan to put additional requirements on condominium buildings after the deadly collapse last year of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside.

The House and Senate were at odds during the regular session about how to address the property-insurance problems, with the Senate trying to be more aggressive in bolstering private insurers.

As an example, the Senate proposed allowing new deductibles of up to 2 percent on roof-damage claims — an outgrowth of complaints by insurers that questionable, if not fraudulent, roof claims are driving up costs. But the House rejected the idea, which would have led to increased out-of-pocket costs for homeowners who need to replace damaged roofs.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, also said lawmakers should give more time for property-insurance changes made in 2021 to fully take hold.

But troubles have continued in the insurance market, with companies shedding policies and seeking hefty rate increases because of what industry officials say are large financial losses. Two insurers, St. Johns Insurance Co., and Avatar Property & Casualty Insurance Co., have recently been placed in state receivership because of insolvencies.

Part of the fallout also has led to thousands of homeowners a week obtaining coverage from the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp., which was created as an insurer of last resort. Citizens had 817,926 policies as of March 31 and is expected to top 1 million by the end of the year.

State leaders have long sought to shift policies out of Citizens into the private market, at least in part because of concerns about financial risks if the state is hammered by a major hurricane or multiple hurricanes.

Before DeSantis’ announcement Monday, Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, launched an effort to try to force a special session on insurance issues. Brandes used a procedure to poll lawmakers about supporting a session.

Lawmakers faced a noon Monday deadline to respond, with results expected to be released later Monday.

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3 thoughts on “DeSantis wants special session on property insurance

  1. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through, Dale. We were dropped from Southern for no reason on our rental home, and thank goodness were able to secure Citizens on it. We were extremely lucky that our rates didn’t go up, but who knows how long we’ll be able to hold onto the Citizens coverage on that house (which we got zero on post Sally) and our residence, as Citizens roles have gone up an estimated 30 to 40% since the insurance crisis in Florida picked up steam again. We recently had a “site survey” on our residence with no explanation for why. We can’t even get an answer from the company on how we can communicate with them on our Sally repairs.

    I have no idea what the technical answer is, as I’m not an insurance expert. And while there is a crisis nationwide, it’s of course worse in Florida, while this buffoon governor and his minions in the legislature destroy this state with their culture wars. They’ve already set Florida back decades, and are furthering their destruction in this extra special session–where we have YET to hear anything about insurance fixes, because DeSantis handed the Disney bill to the senate, told them to put it through, and they gladly obliged. I suppose if anything he’ll tack on some nugget for one of the lap dogs to ram through and convince everybody it will solve the problem while really making it worse–as is his m.o.

    What is the answer when you have the party in control of our everyday lives descended into a lunatic cult hell-bent on pushing through an autocratic agenda that will position DeSantis for president? Because the answer clearly is for all of them to get serious about representing their constituents on the real issues that are impacting their everyday lives, instead of feeding the frenzy of culture conspiracies in order to fill their campaign coffers.

    At a ten-thousand foot level, if they cared about this issue, they would put together a panel of experts who weren’t simply nepotist yes-people to pound out (1) an emergency solution and (2) a long-term plan. Instead, they are thriving on the attention of an idiotic decision to dissolve Disney’s special district that will immediately set Orange and Osceola taxpayers back one billion dollars in muni bonds and saddle them with over 1M in services that those counties can’t provide if they want to keep the state’s largest employer operating.

    I had insurance agents I respect tell me a year and a half ago that the system was already at its breaking point. They’ve known this. OUR GOVERNOR AND OUR REPRESENTATIVES DON’T CARE. They don’t care about the affordable housing crisis, they don’t care about condos falling down, they don’t care the deal they arranged for their oligarchic comrades in FPL is breaking the backs of Panhandle citizens, they don’t care about our insurance issues, and they certainly don’t care about the rape and pillage environmental devastation that their “Deragathon” has made worse, let alone all of the illegal contracting that is happening because they gutted consumer protection against it.

    In order to answer your question, I’d have to know what would entice them to stop clowning around and actually care about anything but their own ambition and greed. How do you make people give a crap? As long as the voters here and other places continue to be fooled by their distractionary culture wars and Facebook positivity propaganda, throwing roses at their feet while they literally steal bread out of their kid’s mouths–I have no idea. I do know that, sadly, how a lot of people are looking at solving it is by moving out of the state. They don’t care about that either, since DeSantis has offered fringe bonuses for people who want to come to the Home of Freedom. They are clearly on a determined program to push certain segments of the population out of Florida, while inviting the most rabid of their base to come on down and settle. Oh, be sure and donate on your way in.

    If the voters actually took a step back from the Florida GOP’s indoctrination strategies for a moment and looked around at what they are *actually* effecting, if people really realized just how catastrophic their mismanagement of the state is, well, that wouldn’t solve the insurance problem on a dime, either. But until that happens, nothing else will get solved. They’ll just keep sending up hallelujahs on people being saved from critical race theory because they don’t understand it’s a red herring for fixing the textbook market in Florida for certain crony publishers.

    And buckle in, because it’s going to get a whole lot worse for the average citizen, while they enjoy their pampered game show up in Tallahassee. There isn’t a single republican that I can see in Tallahassee that isn’t willing to sell out their constituents to kiss DeSantis’s rod. What’s the remedy for it when a society goes bonkers and mistakes the special interest corruption, self-interest, and greed of their lawmakers for “freedom”? I really wish I knew. :( We moved to this state to get away from Big Government intruding on every aspect of our lives and pocketbooks. Never in a million years did I imagine that, eight years later, we’d be watching an authoritarian hell develop in Florida, of all places. If they continue down their checklist in breakneck speed, they will be confiscating property next, starting with probate court. I just keep hoping more people wake up to what this governor, his administration, and our legislature is perpetrating. Short of that, there are no answers.

  2. @ Pino. You don’t like DeSantis. That much is clear, but what is your solution to the wind insurance solution? Last time I checked, it would cost $6,000 to insurance my home with a $10,000 deductible. I’ll be out $16,000 because I get the first dime of coverage. This is for a house built in 1957.

    I’m anxious to hear your solution.

  3. The system has been crashing for how many consecutive legislative sessions since DeSantis transformed the state legislature into his banana republic?

    And now it’s a bells and whistles, orange alert *SPECIAL* *SESSION* called by the ringmaster of the Florida GOP circus commanding his clown princes of hooplah. If there’s a page out of “How To Descend Your State Into a Nightmare of Authoritarian Fascism” this guy hasn’t memorized, I can’t imagine which one it might be. His march to autocracy is textbook.

    It’s simply amazing what he can accomplish when he really wants that next headline because the last one was 2 hours ago. And yet he still can’t muster a response to the FPL disaster that he and his oligarchs ushered in for the Panhandle.

    Can’t wait to see what rabbit gets pulled out of the fez this time. Maybe one of the brain trust figured out how Critical Race Theory caused Florida’s insurance problem.

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