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.
“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.