Joe Henderson: Hurricane Ian’s approach exposes Florida’s insurance crisis

desantis, ron - hurricane prep
Maybe Ron DeSantis should have made property insurance reform more of a priority.

Charlie Crist was on the attack Monday, ripping Gov. Ron DeSantis over his mishandling of the Florida property insurance mess.

Did I say mess? That might understate the issue because it could be a full-blown catastrophe when Hurricane Ian finishes tossing the state around like a ragdoll.

DeSantis, of course, won’t listen to Crist and will dismiss his charges as politically motivated. However, there is someone the Governor should have listened to long ago, and it’s a member of his own Republican party.

I refer, of course, to outgoing state Sen. Jeff Brandes.

He was a modern-day Cassandra on this issue, repeatedly warning what could happen if a big hurricane struck. Hurricanes are a part of life here. I mean, this is Florida.

Brandes begged, pleaded and did his best to convince DeSantis and lawmakers to realize what was happening to Florida’s insurance market. He dug deep into the weeds on this issue. Brandes knew the fuse was burning.

Instead, during the Regular Legislative Session this year, the Governor remained fixated on scaring the bejeebers out of his base on nonissues like critical race theory. Rather than demand insurance reform, DeSantis focused on marginalizing LGBTQ+ people and banning books.

And why work to solve a problem that affects millions of Floridians when you get air time on Fox News for attacking Disney?

So, the insurance market is teetering, and homeowners in the path of this storm could pay the price. Oh, and Disney still rakes in cash.

When the Governor finally called a Special Session to deal with the issue, it was widely seen as a giveaway to insurance companies at homeowners’ expense.

It didn’t stop the bleeding. Rates are still increasing past what many can afford, and thousands of customers face turning to state-run Citizens Property Insurance.

“Socializing more risk into the government-run insurance company is NOT the answer,” Brandes said in a Facebook post on Sept. 1. “Fixing the litigation/insurance market IS. Florida can’t be the most hurricane-prone state and also the most litigious state. Those two things cannot coexist and have lower property insurance rates.”

In August, United Property & Casualty Insurance Co. announced it would leave the Florida market.

Five companies were declared insolvent earlier this year, and FedNat could become the sixth Florida company to leave customers in the lurch. Florida’s Department of Financial Services petitioned to put the company into receivership.

And here comes Ian.

Brandes, who exits the Senate because of term limits, nailed it in comments to City and State Florida.

“We can dig ourselves out, but understand, if you walk five years into the jungle, you don’t turn around and walk out in five days,” he said.

“It’s going to take time, but frankly, we have to turn around first. The Legislature has turned 40 degrees, but it hasn’t turned 180.”

It doesn’t seem like Ian is willing to wait that long.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


14 comments

  • Tom

    September 26, 2022 at 7:43 pm

    Rates are increasing cause you have a Hurricane breathing down the Florida coast Joe.

    Do you expect a marvel force field dome?
    Insurance risk is that, risk? What do you want anybody to do besides a pathetic chameleon to do but demagogue. Florida is the highest risk!

    They’ve placed $2 billion in the insurance account, $2 billion to subsidize.

    Pathetic Charlie was waiting for 39% Florida approval Joe to show up, so they could demagogue together.

    Is FP on Charlie’s payroll? My gosh!

    • Charlie Crist

      September 27, 2022 at 8:49 am

      👆Vote for me. Ill put this mentally disturbed conspiracy theorist in the nut house.

  • tom palmer

    September 26, 2022 at 8:17 pm

    It’s worse. I was at a conference several years ago when we were told by insurance experts that because of climate change, Florida may become uninsurable at some point. for storms.

    • Tom

      September 26, 2022 at 9:19 pm

      Joe, I know you are busy but they have this thing called the internet. If you watched the Tampa presser on the net, with Gov, as he was asked by an actual reporter a question. He committed more state funding as necessary based upon the insurance.
      I have no doubt he will do so.

      • Tom

        September 27, 2022 at 9:39 am

        Tropical 10 ocean whirlwind… Trump says time to go fishing. Where we go one, we go all.

        • Tom

          September 27, 2022 at 11:21 am

          Fake Tom shove, I am FP legend Tom.
          Amazing how I get the clicks, unlike no other.

    • Impeach Biden

      September 26, 2022 at 9:25 pm

      So it’s been a lower than predicted storm season for hurricanes. Can we blame that on climate change?

  • Michael D

    September 26, 2022 at 10:26 pm

    All move into trumps estate where it never floods.. he’ll welcome you with open arms or send you on a bus up north.

  • PeterH

    September 27, 2022 at 12:20 am

    DeSantis will blame Florida’s insurance mess on Joe Biden.

    Todays Republicans never take responsibility for anything!

    REPUBLICANS ARE AMERICA’S PROBLEM!

    VOTE ALL REPUBLICANS OUT OF OFFICE!

  • Greg Anton

    September 27, 2022 at 3:09 am

    Living in Florida is a risk to your assets. The state will be mostly submerged in coming years, so enjoy the sunshine. Florida has a governor who denies climate change and it will be humorous to watch both him and the Donald treading water in a few years- literally!

  • Jason Szumlanski

    September 27, 2022 at 6:55 am

    Joe, you should look into how insurers are dropping and refusing to insure homeowners with solar panels. And it’s not for the reason you would think. It’s an interesting story that isn’t being told, and needs to be addressed as part of insurance reform in Florida.

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    September 27, 2022 at 9:49 am

    Joe have you no shame. That is a rhetorical question. People are under terrible stress and you are making a political claim. You really need to rethink where your mind is

  • Matt Gaetz

    September 27, 2022 at 11:23 am

    Ron and I are both making tons of cash in kickbacks from these insurance companies.. of course FL is out of control.. we are giving all of your money away to these billionaires.. and no we are never going to stop because FL is owned by our cult.

    You people just keep voting for us.. so why wouldn’t we have our hands in the cookie jar?? It’s the best grift on the planet after all.

  • Tjb

    September 28, 2022 at 5:54 pm

    Governor DeSantis I can’t find property insurance. I need help now. One company offered me insurance at double what I paid last year, but as today they dropped out of the Florida market. Help me Ron to find affordable insurance before the next hurricane

Comments are closed.


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