What They’re Saying: Ron DeSantis is to blame for Florida’s property insurance crisis

DeSantis has failed repeatedly to take action to protect homeowners, instead prioritizing divisive culture wars over taking real steps to lower costs for consumers. Elect Charlie Crist to address the REAL issues.

As they continue to survey the damage left by Hurricane Ian, Floridians are coming to terms with the fact that the state’s broken property insurance industry is unprepared to make everyone whole following the storm, with potentially devastating consequences for hundreds of thousands of property owners.

The crisis is so bad, even Republican officeholders and the former head of the Republican Party of Florida are breaking ranks with DeSantis and complaining about how expensive insurance has become.

When asked about the crisis, Ron DeSantis has grown defensive and — as always — tried to pass the buck. But DeSantis has failed repeatedly to take action to protect homeowners, instead prioritizing divisive culture wars over taking real steps to lower costs for consumers. In fact, the only action he has taken to address the issue was to provide a taxpayer-funded bailout to the same insurance companies that have already doubled rates on Floridians during DeSantis’ time in office.

Read more:

Florida Politics: Lenny Curry laments ‘incredibly high’ Florida homeowners insurance rates

  • Republicans continue to voice concerns about Florida’s homeowners’ insurance market in the wake of Hurricane Ian.
  • The latest to argue action is needed: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, who lamented “increases” and “incredibly high” premiums during a Fox Business interview Friday about Florida’s “severely challenged” market and the possibility of a state “bailout” of Citizens Property Insurance.
  • DeSantis and the Legislature, Curry added, “are going to have to address that issue.
  • “Insurance rates have been incredibly high in Florida over the last couple of years, with increases,” Curry said. “This is just going to put more stress and pressure on them.”
  • Curry joins a chorus of Republicans who have expressed concerns about homeowners’ insurance in Florida, including DeSantis’ immediate predecessor as Governor, now-U.S. Sen. Rick Scott.
  • Other Republicans have been open about describing a market on the verge of seismic collapse, including outgoing state Sen. Jeff Brandes. He tweeted ahead of the storm when a Tampa Bay landfall was expected, saying that impact could have resulted in $40 billion in claims damage to insured properties alone.

Financial Times: A broken insurance market threatens Florida and its star governor

  • As coverage has become scarce and expensive, record numbers of homeowners have flocked to a state-run insurer of last resort, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. If its reserves are overwhelmed, taxpayers could face exposure, Jeff Brandes, an outgoing Republican state senator and longtime critic of the insurance system, has warned.
  • In May, Governor DeSantis convened a special legislative session to address the issue. The resulting fix — a $2bn layer of reinsurance to support Citizens — was dismissed by critics, even at the time, as a sticking-plaster solution that would not address the market’s larger problems.
  • Sensing a potential vulnerability, Charlie Crist, a Democrat who is challenging DeSantis in November, on Monday called his opponent “the worst property insurance governor in Florida history. Period.” Crist demanded that DeSantis provide 90-day emergency coverage for residents who were dropped by failing insurers.
  • But others, including RJ Lehmann, a senior fellow at the International Center for Law & Economics think-tank, are faulting the governor.
  • “Lawmakers had ample warning about the need to act during the legislative session earlier this year, but they displayed more interest in waging culture-war battles than in helping Floridians to secure their lives and their property,” Lehmann wrote. The system, he added, was now facing “a state of full-blown collapse”.

Newsweek: Is Florida’s Property Insurance Crisis Ron DeSantis’ Achilles Heel?

  • Florida’s property insurance industry is still in a state of crisis, fueled by an onslaught of roofing scams that has forced dozens of companies to shut their doors, raise rates or exit the state entirely.
  • Many companies currently do not cover flood damage under their insurance policies. And recent attempts by the state’s Republican-led legislature have failed to stem the issue, accelerating industry losses over that time to about $1 billion and forcing the closure of six insurance companies in the state in the last seven months.
  • “Gov. DeSantis let these insurance companies double Floridians’ rates and they’re still going belly up when homeowners need them most,” Crist told reporters on Monday. “You pay and pay and pay, and the insurance company isn’t there for you in the end anyway.”

Washington Post: Florida’s insurance woes could make Ian’s economic wrath even worse

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) called a special session in May to address the property insurance crisis, but many say the law he signed does nothing to help consumers now. And some of the elements of the law, such as My Safe Florida Home, which is supposed to offer grants to homeowners who retrofit their homes to add hurricane protection, still aren’t up and running four months later.

Politico: The storm coming for Florida’s insurance market

  • “Florida is already having a problem with [insurance] availability. It’s having a problem with affordability. And it’s having a problem with reliability when insurance companies are going insolvent,” Nancy Watkins, a principal at Milliman actuarial consultants, told Tom Frank of E&E News. “All three of the pillars of a sustainable market are under threat.”
  • “If Florida gets hit with one (or more) big storms and Citizens can’t pay its claims of those of other carriers, guess who’s on the hook? Yep, nearly every Floridian with an insurance policy,” POLITICO’s Gary Fineout reported in July, eight weeks before meteorologists spotted Ian forming near the Lesser Antilles.

Popular Information: What happened while Ron DeSantis was fighting the culture wars

  • Why didn’t DeSantis take more robust action in May to shore up the property insurance market? Strengthening the public reinsurance fund was opposed by “large insurance companies that can buy reinsurance from their own subsidiaries and wouldn’t benefit from the proposed reforms.”
  • That opposition was reportedly led by State Farm, the nation’s largest insurer. State Farm is also a major donor to and fundraiser for DeSantis.
  • State Farm also partially owns RenaissanceRe, a private reinsurance company. The private reinsurance industry opposes strengthening Florida’s public reinsurance fund because it cuts into their profits.
  • Another way to stabilize the insurance market is to fortify and expand Citizens Property Insurance Corp and allow more Floridians to access its coverage. But this is opposed by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which represents State Farm and other major insurers. Instead, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is advocating for the legislature to raise Citizens’ rates, which would also allow private insurance to jack up prices.