Insurance Reforms Signed in Sarasota

Todays News

Photo courtesy Sen. Jim Boyd: Gov. RonDeSantis signs reform with Sen. Boyd, local leaders present.

A signing ceremony was held in Sarasota on Friday for an overhaul of Florida’s insurance regulations.  Gov. Ron DeSantis at the event promised the changes will help “turn the corner and get to a better spot for all Floridians.”

The location for the signing made sense on multiple levels, with Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, championing the bill within the Legislature this year, but also with some of the state’s largest insurance carriers headquartered in the region. But what will the bill do to impact the industry and consumers?

Boyd said he expects it will take a year to 18 months before insurance rates fully reflect the impact in the law. An insurance agent in his day job, Boyd said that’s the most important end goal for the bill. “Every day we see our homeowners and clients facing 20, 30 40, even 50% rate increases, and sometimes even higher,” he said.

There will be some immediate changes in how business is conducted in Florida when the new law goes into effect on July 1. Adjustors and roof inspectors will no longer be allowed to offer free inspections or gift cards, as many do now when they go door to door trying to convince homeowners to contract work. Boyd said many of the contractors try to convince homeowners to get their entire roofs replaced after that, often promising it will be completely covered but setting up conflict between homeowners and carriers that could end up in court.

The legislation also changes court fee prospects for trial attorneys, something else driving up costs for insurers in the state. Boyd through the legislative session noted many insurance companies won’t offer homeowners policies in Florida because of the litigious environment, and many domestic carriers in the state would be losing money but for the rest of their investment portfolios.

It’s part of why broader business groups championed the new round of regulation. “When Florida accounts for only 8% of the nation’s property insurance claims but 76% of national property insurance litigation, you know there is a problem," said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. He said the legislation “contains meaningful attorney fee reform to bring all parties to the table and reins in roofing solicitation practices that were driving lawsuits due to questionable roofing claims.”

The new law will also allow Citizens Property Insurance, the state-run insurer of last resort, to raise its rates more that 10% a year. By 2026, it could boost its own rates as much as 15%. But that’s important, supporters of the reform say, to bring those fees more in line with the private market. Before the legislation passed, the state insurer was taking on as many as 5,000 new policies each week, which could set up financial problems in the event of a major hurricane hitting those state-insured homes.

Even before the legislation went into effect, Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said the state has seen the trends shift. Less than 1,000 policies have been written for Citizens since the Legislature passed the bill on the last day of the session. He said that was a “positive development” and a sign both that private insurers were offering competitive prices to Citizens again and that a larger number of carriers were willing to work within Florida again.

Photo courtesy Sen. Jim Boyd: Gov. RonDeSantis signs reform with Sen. Boyd, local leaders present.

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