May 21, 2022
  • May 21, 2022

Governor DeSantis ‘would welcome’ special session on property insurance solution

By on March 21, 2022 0

TAMPA (WFLA) – Hundreds of homeowners are turning to 8 On Your Side after seeing their home insurance rates soar. The owners are upset because it seems to them that Florida lawmakers are not doing anything about it.

Neither proposal passed in the 2022 legislative session and now a special session to tackle the issue seems less likely.

Two entities can call a special legislative session in Florida: Governor Ron DeSantis or the leaders of the Florida House and Senate.

Speaking in Wellington on Monday, Governor Desantis said he would “welcome” a special session on insurance reform and also new condo safety measures in the wake of the Surfside building collapse. .

However, the governor appeared to leave it to lawmakers to decide whether to return to Tallahassee and tackle the issues.

Robert Schnorf is retired in Pinellas County. He just found out that his rate will drop from around $3,314 to $5,056. That’s nearly $1,800 more per year.

“I try to do things to minimize my monthly living expenses and things happen out of the blue that I have no control over,” Schnorf said.

This weekend, other homeowners across Florida emailed 8 On Your Side investigator Mahsa Saeidi with a similar story: Their rates are going up dramatically or their policies are being dropped.

On Friday, State Senator Jeff Brandes said it was time for Governor DeSantis to call a special session for insurance reform.

On Monday, Gov. DeSantis signaled he welcomes a special session, but it doesn’t appear he’s issuing a directive to force lawmakers back to work.

“I would love that, I think the Legislature just didn’t get it right. If they can get a deal they should. I’m sure we’re going to see something along those lines at some point… over the next year,” Governor DeSantis added. “I have a pen ready.

Leaders of Florida’s Senate and House of Representatives could also issue a joint call for a special session.

Investigator Mahsa Saeidi contacted the office of State Senator Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Rep. Chris Sprows.

“I wanted to know if they were planning to do that,” Saeidi said.

Reps for Sen. Simpson and Rep. Sprows did not comment further, but did point to previous statements by lawmakers.

Speaking to reporters on March 11, Senator Simpson seemed open to a special session.

“There is a possibility. We have many businesses going bankrupt, it’s definitely a crisis,” Senator Simpson said.

It’s a crisis that’s hitting families across the Tampa Bay area. Schnorf says the dramatic price spike just isn’t fair.

“The last time I made an owner claim was in 1992,” he said.

He says his neighbors are also seeing their rates go up. Some, who don’t have a mortgage, are considering giving up their insurance altogether and insuring themselves.

In 2021, lawmakers approved a series of changes to try to reduce the number of lawsuits in Florida, and that includes a formula to limit attorneys’ fees. But the owners do not yet see an impact.

A spokesperson for Governor Ron DeSantis sent Saeidi the following message Monday evening:

“Governor DeSantis remains committed to the goal of stabilizing insurance rates and continuing to work for the consumer. Governor DeSantis monitors the stability of the insurance market in real time and works closely with Commissioner Altmaier and insurers to assess the health of the sector. Insurers are now receiving their reinsurance quotes for coverage for the upcoming hurricane season, and as these insurers receive these quotes, we will have a better understanding of the health of the market.

As you may know, in 2019, 8.6% of all property insurance claims in the United States were filed in Florida, but 76.45% of all property insurance disputes in the States United occurred in Florida.

Recognizing this, during the 2021 legislative session, the legislature passed and Governor DeSantis signed Senate SB 76 which significantly reformed the litigation environment in Florida by changing the way attorney fees are awarded. in disputed insurance cases. At the time, it was stated that it would potentially take two years to feel the impact of this bill, as ongoing litigation does not fall under the amended law, nor do insurance claims for a loss that preceded the effective date of the bill. Many insurance companies in Florida are still grappling with tailings litigation from recent hurricanes, including Hurricane Irma. But as a result of the reforms we have implemented so far, we are seeing new companies come to market.

The Governor has consistently urged the legislature to enact substantial insurance reform. In addition to pushing for attorney fee reform in SB 76, in 2019 Governor DeSantis pushed for Assignment of Benefits (AOB) application reform and signed into law HB 7065. He also appointed more than 100 justices and 5 Supreme Court justices who have a significant impact in reducing frivolous litigation. Additionally, he has publicly stated that he supports some of the measures the Senate was considering in the 2022 legislative session, but none of them passed.

If your policy has been dropped or your rates have suddenly increased, please email Investigator Mahsa Saeidi at [email protected]