Central Florida lawmakers expect Special Session will only scratch the surface of property insurance reform

Jason Brodeur and David Smith
David Smith says Legislature will build on failed bills from 2022 Legislative Session.

Next week’s Special Session will only be the start of addressing Florida’s growing property insurance crisis, Central Florida lawmakers caution.

“We will pass something. It would be political suicide not to. So, something is going to be done. Is it everything? No, you don’t do everything in a Special Session. But it’s going to set the tone for the Regular Session in 2023,” Republican Rep. David Smith of Winter Springs said Wednesday. Smith sits on the House Insurance and Banking Committee.

Smith said the Legislature will likely start with remnants of bills from the 2022 Legislative Session, HB 1307 and its counterpart SB 1728, which he said died in the closing days from lack of a deal.

“We had a pretty good bill, not a great bill, but a pretty good bill that would have helped with a lot of the little things, a bunch of glitchy kind of property insurance issues,” Smith said. “That’s going to be the basis for what we’re going to back in on.”

He, Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur of Sanford, and Orlando Democratic Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Anna Eskamani offered Special Session expectations during the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Legislative Session forum at AdventHealth’s Center for Health & Wellbeing in Winter Park Wednesday morning.

Carlos Smith pushed for the Legislature to address “extremely high” re-insurance rates he said are cost-prohibitive for many insurance companies that might do business in Florida. He said one way to do that would be to expand access to the state’s Hurricane Catastrophic Fund — the CAT Fund.

Brodeur said, “bad actors” participate in Florida’s property insurance crisis: insurance companies that automatically deny claims, forcing court battles, and roofers and other home repair contractors ready to go to court on dubious claims. They both want to be in court, he said.

“I don’t know to what degree we’re going to have to play whack-a-mole with the various players and say, ‘you’re kind of responsible, you’re kind of responsible, you’re kind of responsible,'” Brodeur said. “But I think that is what we’re going to have to deal with.”

Eskamani also cautioned that Florida’s property insurance crisis has a fairly unique cause, hurricanes and intense weather patterns associated exacerbated by climate change.

“If the state doesn’t champion more efforts to … acknowledge this threat and to find ways to combat it, I am afraid we are going to see risk go up and more companies leaving Florida,” she said.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].

One comment

  • Tom

    May 19, 2022 at 10:56 pm

    Smith and Eskimo are extremists. AOC wannabes. Orlando had become a hot bed for this. Dum dum Demings, the mayor Dumings. Lots of nefarious politics.
    Non helpful and frankly not relevant.
    America’s Gov knows all. He will figure it out.
    Whiz kid Gov. the best! Just saying

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