New property insurance law will be tested in the marketplace, and perhaps in the courts

Meeting in special session, the Florida Legislature enacted a bill intended to help solve the growing property insurance problems in the Sunshine State.

Will it?

Opinions vary, as Dalton the bouncer in the movie Road House said.

Because it is a highly complex problem, no one really has answers that will satisfy all the parties — the main three being the homeowners, the insurance companies and the lawyers.

One local homeowner shared her experience with Eye on My City. She bought her home for $620,000 in Oct. 2019. Her home insurance was $4,800 then.  This year her policy cost $10,200.

Previous attempts at fixes have failed. Citizens Property Insurance, a “not-for profit,” was supposed to be a way to offload the risk and cost when it was created 20 years ago but that didn’t work. It has more than 850,000 policies now and is floundering.

The new law purports to provide short-term and long-term relief. It also claims to reform the legal environment to reduce frivolous lawsuits and crack down on fraudulent roofing schemes that are driving up costs.

A key feature of the bill is $2 billion for reinsurance, which has been difficult and expensive for insurors to obtain.

“This package represents the most significant reforms to Florida’s homeowners insurance market in a generation,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

“This legislation takes a giant step forward in beginning to end the wealth transfer happening from hardworking business owners and consumers to trial lawyers, who file inexplicable amounts of lawsuits against property insurers,” a spokesman for Associated Industries of Florida said.

Democrats criticized the measure, which in an indication that it has the potential to help Florida residents rather than special interests.

One local insurance agent told Eye on my City that the bill appears to include language curtailing assignment of benefits, which he said has been a way to fleece homeowners and drive up costs.

Florida’s soaring insurance costs are caused by the same thing that makes Florida the envy of the other 49 states: its weather.

When hurricanes strike crowded urban areas like those in South Florida they can cause tremendous property damage, even with resiliency measures in place. Someone has to pay the cost and most Floridians who are not Democrats know it isn’t the Government Tooth Fairy.

Lloyd Brown

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.

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