Asked what can be done about Florida’s growing property insurance challenges, lawmakers at a Volusia County forum Thursday said those problems grow out of lawsuits as well as insurance fraud and abuse.
Republican Reps. Webster Barnaby of Deltona and Tom Leek of Ormond Beach characterized the property insurance problem as a matter that needs tort and regulatory reforms to reduce insurance fraud, insurance claims abuses and litigation.
Barnaby, who is on the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee, said he did not think a comprehensive solution was possible in a Special Session, but that he expects it to be addressed next year.
St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, and many Democrats, have requested a Special Session to address what they characterize as a looming property insurance “crisis.” They contend many Florida homeowners are suffering from rapidly increasing insurance rates, and note some property insurance companies have collapsed in the past year. That has made insurance increasingly difficult for homeowners to obtain.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he would support a Special Session, and Brandes is out to force one.
On Thursday, Barnaby and Leek joined Sen. Tom Wright of Port Orange and Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff of DeLand in a Volusia County legislative delegation forum hosted by the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce in Daytona Beach. Wright and Fetterhoff did not respond to the insurance question.
Barnaby began by saying his conversations with insurance companies turn to problems with car windshield cracks and water damage claims that too often become more than reasonable fix claims. He said roofs are a problem too.
“The short answer is we have a comprehensive problem that needs to be looked at comprehensively. Many are calling for a Special Session in the Legislature to look at the homeowners’ rising costs for individuals. I think it needs to be more than just a Special Session,” Barnaby said.
Leek chimed in, saying roof damage claims brought by roofing companies are overwhelming insurers, amounting to nearly 80% of all claims and 80% of all roof litigation, indicating the roofing industry has “taken over.”
“It’s not about getting the insured a new roof. It’s about everyone making money in that process,” Leek said.