Governor Ron DeSantis has signed Senate Bill 2A, which was introduced at last week’s Special Session of the Florida Legislature, convened to take another crack at tackling Florida’s property insurance crisis.
The Legislators, along party lines, took an “industry-friendly approach,” designed to keep insurance companies writing policies in Florida, to re-establish Citizen’s as an insurer of last resort and to stabilize the market that was hard hit this fall by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole.
The reforms, said Gov. DeSantis, “create an environment which realigns Florida to best practices across the nation, adding much needed stability to Florida’s market.” Across the aisle, objections centered on the lack of immediate financial relief for property owners, with ratepayers very likely to see higher costs next year.
According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, though Florida represents 7% of all insurance claims in the nation, the state is home to 76% of the lawsuits. The Legislator’s premise is that fraud and litigation are the cost drivers in Florida. SB 2A prohibits one-way attorney fees, provides a discount to participate in binding arbitration and eliminates Assignment of Benefits. The bill also mandates homeowners purchase flood insurance as a condition of eligibility for Citizen’s coverage. It also prohibits consumers from renewing policies with Citizen’s if a private insurer can provide coverage that is not more than 20% more expensive than the Citizen’s coverage.
Also signed Friday was SB 4A, which provides property tax relief for homes rendered uninhabitable due to the storms and provides $750 million for the communities those communities directly impacted. And, last Thursday, the Governor signed SB 6A that establishes the Toll Relief Program through the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and provides account credits to frequent commuters using toll roads across the state.