FL House & Senate leaders release an outline for its special session on property insurance

By MICHAEL MOLINE, Florida Phoenix, Dec 6, 2022.

The leaders of the Florida House and Senate have formally called a special session for next week to try to prop up the property insurance market and provide tax relief to people whose homes are uninhabitable because of hurricane damage.

House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo issued the proclamation on Tuesday, formalizing plans they’d entered into the Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The document lists 11 things to do during the session, set to begin Monday and run through Friday. They include:

  • “Reduce the cost of litigation regarding property insurance claims.”
  • “Foster the availability of reinsurance for property insurance.”
  • “Improve claims handling practices in property insurance.
  • “Increase oversight of property insurance market participants.”

Additionally, the call includes discussion of ways to “improve the financial stability of the Citizens Property Insurance Corp.,” the state-backed property insurer of last resort.

Multiple insurers have been cancelling policies in Florida or applying for, and being granted, rate hikes from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. They’ve cited higher losses due to worsening weather, widespread litigation, rising costs of construction and repairs, and rising property values.

The Legislature also will debate avenues for improving the Division of Emergency Management’s response to disasters and establish a toll credit program for Florida commuters. In August, DeSantis announced up to $40 million in discounts for commuters using Florida’s Turnpike and other Department of Transportation-controlled toll roads and urged the Legislature to extend the program to other toll roads.

Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida on Sept. 28 with 150 mph winds and then made a second landfall in the Carolinas, causing damage estimated at between $53 billion and $74 billion. NBC News has estimated the number of deaths to be at least 148 people.