Florida lawmakers meet to try to fix state’s property insurance market

Florida legislators are considering giving $2 billion in public funds to private insurance companies to set up a reinsurance fund and a series of other benefits.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida legislators are considering giving $2 billion in public funds to private insurance companies. Supporters aim to set up a reinsurance fund and a series of other benefits.

The hurricane season begins June 1 and some residents are facing high insurance premiums, cancellations, and separate deductibles for their roofs — among other problems.

“We don’t want to be in a situation where hundreds of thousands of people are losing their policies,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

On Monday, legislators met for a week-long special session in Tallahassee to debate the proposed solution to the growing property insurance market crisis.

“My clients had called Tower Hill [Insurance] and said, ‘Why am I getting a 100% increase?’ Their answer was, ‘Because the state of Florida said we could,’” said Richie Kidwell, of the Restoration Association of Florida, which advocates for independent contractors.

Democrats opposed that the new legislation would place limits on lawsuits against insurers to get their claims paid. David Altmeier, Florida Insurance Commissioner, said “frivolous bad faith” lawsuits are contributing to a price increase. He is advocating for limits.

“If an insurance company gets sued and they end up paying an amount because of that litigation that’s part of their loss cost,” Altmeier said.

Lawmakers created the state-run Citizens Property Insurance in 2002. Barry Gilway has been the president, chief executive officer, and executive director since June 2012. He said roof replacement fraud isn’t helping.

“That has been a money grab by attorneys, by public adjusters, and by contractors. It’s staggering,” Gilway said.

To help consumers, Republicans said the law is designed to prevent insurance companies from discriminating against homeowners with newer or older roofs after passing an inspection.

“We are here to try to protect the insurance industry and ultimately the taxpayer as well as the homeowner,” said Attorney Aram Papken Megeria, of the Florida Justice Reform Institute, a nonprofit public interest law firm.

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Torres contributed to this report in Miami.


About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.