As home insurance hikes multiply, calls for
reform in Florida are growing
Article Courtesy of The Islander News
By Hillard Grossman
Published December 6, 2023
Four years ago, Alan Weger said he was paying less
than $1,000 a year for homeowners coverage on his Florida West Coast
villa that was built in 1984. His latest bill, which came last month,
"I don't know how much longer I can live here," said the retired teacher
in a Facebook exchange.
He's not the only one seeing his insurance premium spike lately. This
year alone, Florida property owners shuddered as the average policy rose
40% to a historic average of about $6,000 a year, almost four times the
national average of $1,700, according to a CNN Business report.
So, what is the next step?
Last week, Congressman Maxwell Frost, a Democrat from Orlando, became
the latest to demand that Gov. Ron DeSantis introduce measures to
address the issue, adding to previous calls that have asked the governor
to prioritize the state’s property insurance crisis over his
Frost's letter was written after he held a discussion with Central
Florida homeowners and business leaders, as well as aspiring homeowners,
who all shared their struggles as the state insurance premiums have gone
up by 300% over the past five years.
“What I heard emphasized the harm directly caused to Floridians by your
lack of leadership to properly regulate the insurance industry, mitigate
the destruction of extreme weather events, and make informed legislative
decisions to solve the problem," Frost wrote in his letter to the
governor. "I request an urgent meeting to discuss my constituents'
concerns and hear your plans for a solution to this crisis.”
Three bills were passed during the 2023 Legislative Session in the
summer that would help protect homeowners and insurers. Still, ABC
Action News learned from Florida's insurance commissioner, Michael
Yaworsky, that there is usually an estimated two-year lag between
legislative reform and a price break for residents.
But, help should be coming, said Alejandro Pérez Duque, who directs the
PVG Insurance Group on Key Biscayne.
"Without getting political, under DeSantis, the insurance reform he did
(introduce) through the Special Legislative Session (this year) will be
beneficial to consumers, but it will take some time to cycle through,
given the manipulation by attorneys and public adjusters," he said.
"The industry requires, for its health and stability, more restrictions
on combating fraud by bad actors, and less restrictions on rate-setting.
If carriers cannot price the risk adequately, they simply stop writing
policies or exit the state."
Frost's letter to Gov. DeSantis might be the only way to sway any
further reform since Republicans have a majority in the Florida Senate
and House, and they get to decide what bills are introduced and voted
Last month, Senate Banking and Insurance Chairman Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton,
said he doesn't see "any additional big-deal things that we can do"
during the 2024 Legislative Session, which begins in January.
In the meantime, a little patience might pay off in the long run.
"We are at the peak of the hardest property insurance cycle in history
for catastrophic coverages, such as hurricanes. And, like in prior
peaks, when more carriers ultimately enter the market and this
competition pressures rivals to loosen up, the consumer will benefit
from having more choices and better pricing," Pérez Duque said.
"It’s just getting through the ‘storm’ that matters right now, and
understanding that it is not sustainable and will come to an end