Insurance Reform Could Force Special Session

Todays News

Lawmakers will meet today for the last day of the Legislative Session and vote on a budget. But much work remains undone, and many expect a special session to be called soon on homeowners insurance.

Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, carried legislation that would have changed a number of laws regarding litigation of claims, available policies for roofs and other parts of statute. While it passed in the Senate, the House did not take it up before Friday, the last day of the session when regular bills could be considered.

“We had a chance, I believe, once again to battle the rising costs of homeowners’ insurance to keep the market stable,” Boyd said. “We were unable to do that. We had a very good proposal and a compromise sent to the House, which sadly didn’t embrace it. Now the market is still in shambles and policy owners and homeowners will pay more.”

Last year, Boyd carried another reform bill that did pass in both chambers and was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis at a ceremony in Sarasota. That bill impacted how long insurance claimants could bring action against carriers after a disaster. It also addressed solicitation from adjustors and vendors, but many of those provisions were tossed out of court on First Amendment grounds.

Regardless, House Speaker Chris Sprowls expressed skepticism to the press about whether a new round of reform needed to occur so quickly. “If what has been told to me in the eight years I’ve been here from the insurance lobby is true, which is that it takes 18 months to see an impact on rates — which is what I’ve been told over and over and over again — then I don’t think we are yet seeing the impact we are having in rates by the bill we passed last year,” he said.

But industry voices say last year’s law, while not fully impacting the market yet, hasn’t stopped the situation from getting worse, and that’s largely because the House wouldn’t hear provisions passed in the Senate in 2021.

Boyd hopes to find a compromise this year on that language which still allowed legitimate advertising for roofing services but stopped bad actors from preying on individuals with roof damage by promising complete replacement costs from carriers but landing clients instead in litigation.

The senator said there needs to be an understanding of the role of insurance and better comprehension of what can be expected from certain materials. He notes roofs on homes have  life expectancy, and he would like to see state law changed so that policies could be written that cover depreciated or real cash values on roofs, not complete replacement costs. “Insurance is not a warranty,” he said.

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