Insurance reform died last week. Will legislators come back to address it in a Special Session?

Insurance reform is dead for the 2022 Legislative Session, confirmed Sen. Jim Boyd.

Unlike in 2022, when a bill crossed the finish line as the last bill of the session, that won’t happen this time. There are already rumors that a Special Session could be in the immediate future.

“It’s quite likely,” Sen said. Jeffrey Brandes, a Republican from St. Petersburg, on the possibilities of a Special Session. “Let’s say it’s 70%-30% what happens. We just have to see if other companies fail.”

For the second consecutive year, changes in the industry desired by the Senate could not find traction in the house. The Legislature closed for business on Friday, the last scheduled day of session, without passing any legislation. While lawmakers will reconvene on Monday to vote on a budget, no other bills will be considered.

The Senate passed a bill earlier in the session (SB 1728), but critics have always opposed it because it would reduce the liabilities of insurance providers and increase costs for homeowners. but speaker Chris Sprowls then expressed skepticism about anything that had to happen on the homeowners insurance front this year.

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“If what I’ve been told in the eight years I’ve been here from insurance lobbying is true, that it takes 18 months to see an impact on rates, which is what I’ve been told over and over and over again. , so I don’t think we’re still seeing the impact that we’re having on rates from the bill that we passed last year,” Sprowls said last week.

michael carlsonPresident and CEO of the Florida Personal Insurance Federation, recognize that point to some extent. But he said that doesn’t take into account the level of compromise in the 2021 legislation, or the fact that things have gotten noticeably worse in the last year when it comes to rates and companies refusing to write policies in Florida.

“You’re taking two steps forward when you need to take six, and then you say, let’s see how this works while there’s a five-alarm fire,” Carlson said. “We brought a garden hose while there is a fire when we have a fire truck in the driveway. It’s time for the fire truck.”

His. Jim Boyd, A Bradenton Republican and insurance agent by trade, he sponsored major homeowners insurance reform legislation in the 2021 and 2022 sessions. He left Capitol Hill this year baffled that they couldn’t make any progress. “I think we had an opportunity once again to fight the rising costs of homeowners insurance that are keeping the market stable,” he said.

The failure to pass a new round of reforms comes after insurance companies operating in the state of Florida suffered a collective loss of $1.5 billion in 2021. Progressive reports have $250 million in the red.

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This year, the House would not act on the Senate’s property insurance reform proposals despite some members expressing urgency on the issue. Heading into the final week of the session, several lawmakers told Florida Politics that measure was critical to completing this year, with one saying a special session dealing only with insurance would be warranted if nothing can get through both chambers before the end of Friday. But some House members working on insurance legislation declined to comment.

The Legislature in 2021 passed an insurance bill just before delivery. But at the time, many voices within the industry questioned whether changes aimed at stemming rapid increases in insurance premiums and renewal costs would help in the long run. The Chamber did not accept a change in roofing policy regulations that would allow businesses to cover the depreciated value of a roof instead of full replacement costs. This year, banners flew over the Capitol in the last days of the session with messages such as “There is no such thing as a free ceiling.”

Last year’s bill also included solicitation restrictions that were later thrown out by the courts for reasons of freedom of expression.

Boyd returned to session this year hoping to address a variety of issues. He still wanted to deal with the request, but to do it in a way that wouldn’t get in the way of any legitimate advertisements for services. His legislation contemplated similar solutions for roof repairs, such as allowing customers to insure the actual or depreciated cash value of a roof, but he was willing to talk to the House about compromises such as establishing a roof insurance deductible. .

“It wouldn’t have fixed all the problems, but it would have moved the needle in a positive direction,” he said.

Brandes said what happened in the meantime left him angry at the lack of action. He said that during the 60-day legislative session, seven additional insurance companies announced that they would stop writing policies in Florida. Two companies providing insurance went bankrupt and went under.

Meanwhile, the number of homeowners in state-run Citizens Property Insurance has ballooned to more than 800,000, with another 600 signing up each week. That’s largely because Citizens’ schedule is kept artificially low by state law. As the gap with free-market prices grows, Brandes said there are a growing number of incentives for agents to place customers on the cheapest state policies.

Logan McFaddinthe American Property Casualty Insurance AssociationFlorida’s vice president for state government relations said Florida’s problems are getting worse every day.

“In recent weeks, several insurers have faced insolvency and the number of Citizens policies has continued to grow at a rapid rate, while homeowners face higher costs and fewer options in the marketplace,” McFaddin said. “Without common sense reform action to address roof repair scams, these alarming trends are likely to continue.

He thanked Boyd for the work on the reform, but said that without solutions laid out in the statute, things could get worse.

“Given the magnitude of the crisis in Florida’s homeowners insurance market, it is extremely disappointing that the legislature arose without passing critical reforms, especially related to roof repair scams, to help bring stability to the market and ultimately lower costs for consumers,” McFaddin said. “Roof repair scams and their corresponding wave of litigation are driving up the cost of home insurance in Florida and are a key reason the market has become so volatile.”

Obviously, not everyone feels the same or considers insurers to be victims on the issue. Senator gary farmera Democrat from Lighthouse Point, has argued fiercely against the idea in the Senate as the issue comes up repeatedly.

“It’s always a different excuse for the insurance industry,” Farmer said of the bills passed by the Senate. “You’re talking about people’s biggest investment in their lives.”

He offered amendments that failed on the Senate floor that would have eliminated language about attorneys’ fees and any changes to roof insurance rules. Groups like the Florida Association for Justice have argued that those changes will ultimately catch disaster-hit consumers who are later hit by costs when they anticipated insurance would help later.

But Brandes said ultimately lawmakers must address a litigation issue in the Florida market. Florida, the third most populous state in the union, accounts for 82% of property disputes in the state.

“House leadership is asleep at the wheel,” he said. “This is an all hands on deck situation, and these guys are sleeping below decks. It will be necessary for the governor to wake everyone up.”

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