Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is responding to Governor Ron DeSantis’ special legislative session on property insurance, saying Republican state legislators caved to big insurance companies and are “poised to deliver devastating blows to homeowners and renters that leave Floridians holding the bag with less coverage and less protection against companies.”
In his proclamation calling for the special session, Gov. DeSantis said “it is necessary for the State of Florida to act to stabilize the insurance market for Florida policyholders before the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season.” Gov. DeSantis also said that according to the Office of Insurance Regulation, Florida accounted for 79% of the nation’s homeowners insurance lawsuits over claims filed while making up only 9% of the nation’s homeowners insurance claims. As Governor, Crist took on big insurance companies was able to lower rates by 10 percent, his campaign says. Crist also released a 7-point plan ahead of the special session, outlining actions to protect consumers, stabilize the market, and lower rates in Florida.
“Under Governor DeSantis, the Florida Legislature is poised to give insurance companies everything they want and leave Floridians holding the bag,” said Crist. “When insurance companies run the show, it’s always the same story: higher costs, lower coverage, and no recourse when your insurer abuses you. As Governor, I fought for Floridians, not insurance companies, and I brought down rates because it was the right thing to do.”
Crist’s 7-point plan actually includes policies he previously rolled out as part of his “Affordable Florida” plan as well as the FAITH Act, legislation he introduced in Congress. Here’s a recap of the Crist plan:
FAITH Act – Provide a federal catastrophic backstop to reduce excessive reinsurance costs and pass those savings on to Florida homeowners.
End Surcharge Policyholders Pay to Pre-Fund the CAT Fund – Crist will work to end the 25% surcharge policyholders pay to pre-fund the catastrophe fund, which was always meant to be temporary.
Lower the CAT Fund Attachment Point – As governor, Crist will work to lower the CAT fund attachment point from $8.2 million to $4.5 billion, further reducing the cost of private reinsurance.
Appoint An Insurance Commissioner For The People – As governor, Crist will appoint an insurance commissioner who supports Floridians over Big Insurance and will hold the line on rate increases.
Require Big Insurers Profiting Off Auto Insurance To Provide Homeowners Insurance – Crist will require large insurers that sell auto insurance to Floridians to also offer homeowners insurance, allowing Floridians to “bundle and save.”
Re-Establish My Safe Florida Homes – Crist will also help Floridians better protect their homes from hurricanes and lower their insurance premiums by re-establishing his “My Safe Florida Homes” program. When he was governor, the state provided 400,000 free wind inspections and helped 35,000 homeowners pay for hardening homes, which reduced their premiums.
Fight Fraud – Crist will fight fraud by creating an insurance fraud task force to protect hard-working Floridians and stop the fraudsters who drive up rates for homeowners insurance.
Gov. DeSantis has said prior reforms he has signed into law have helped, but the legislature did not do enough to stop rising costs on Floridians. His proclamation also said Citizens Property Insurance, the State of Florida’s public insurer of last resort, has seen an increase of 399,822 policies since the beginning of 2020 and is on track to be over 1 million policies by year end. The Florida insurance industry has seen two straight years of net underwriting losses exceeding $1 billion each year.
Gov. DeSantis is hoping there will not be rate hikes and wants to see relief for individual homeowners’ improvements that could create better rates. He also wants to see litigation reforms to stop excessive lawsuits, which he said do not lower rates or stabilize the market.
Crist disagrees with the approach.
“Gov. DeSantis’ special session is only about consumer abuse and blue-tarp roofs,” Crist added. “He’s ignored this brewing crisis for years, and now he’s got the wrong prescription. He’s turned his back on Florida homeowners, condo owners, and renters. I will put Floridians first.”
No matter what comes out of Tallahassee during the special session, expect property insurance and rates to remain an issue in the campaign for Governor.