Gov. Ron DeSantis closed the week taking heat from a political enemy over property insurance issues that continue in the state.
Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried issued a statement Friday blasting the Governor for ongoing shortcomings in the state’s beleaguered homeowners’ insurance market.
“Because Ron DeSantis and Florida Republicans chose to use two legislative sessions to line the pockets of insurance companies, instead of helping homeowners, Floridians are getting ripped off by property insurance companies who are slashing their payouts and even refusing to cover Hurricane Ian damages altogether,” Fried contended.
“People in southwest Florida are still desperately waiting for their homes to be rebuilt and repaired, and some are even having to cover those costs completely out of pocket. Instead of coming up with a plan to deliver property insurance relief to Floridians, Ron DeSantis would rather spend his time making up culture wars and traveling across the country to chase the MAGA base.”
Fried’s comments were issued in the wake of a DeSantis press conference Friday in Fort Myers, in which the Governor offered less than conclusive answers to reporters’ questions about the still struggling market, deflecting blame to market conditions that existed before he was Governor.
“So the reports of people getting shortchanged or getting unlawfully dropped because someone was looking to make more money. The Insurance Regulation office is investigating that. The Chief Financial Officer’s investigating that. And I think anyone should be held accountable who is not meeting their obligations that they owe to their folks.”
“In terms of this upcoming Legislative Session,” DeSantis contended. “I’m open to do whatever we need to do to continue to work on the problem.”
“I mean, as you know, we had a lot of companies that have been going out of business for a long time. No one wanted to come here and do business in Florida. I think we’ve changed that in going in the right direction,” DeSantis said. “There’s been a positive response, but part of it is you police this stuff, which you’ve got to do.”
“But when your market was so bad, you know, you didn’t have as many reputable companies that wanted to be in here. And so I think we’re, I think we’ve done, done a lot to change it but, but yes, they should, they need to be held accountable and I know that they’re gonna be aggressively doing it,” DeSantis contended.
Indeed, the reforms have included billions of dollars of taxpayer money to shore up rickety reinsurance funds. SB 2A, passed in December, provided $1 billion from the state’s general revenue fund to bolster the reinsurance market, in an attempt to stop last year’s attrition of available providers. This followed up on a $2 billion allocation from a different Special Session in May for essentially the same purpose.
This spending drove criticism earlier this week from a potential opponent for DeSantis for the 2024 Republican Presidential nomination.
On Truth Social, former President Donald Trump flogged the Florida Governor over what he labels “the worst insurance scam in the entire country.”
“In addition to wanting to cut Social Security (and raise the minimum age to at least 70) & MediCare, RINO Ron DeSanctimonious is delivering the biggest insurance company BAILOUT to Globalist Insurance Companies, IN HISTORY,” Trump asserted.
“He’s also crushed Florida homeowners whose houses were destroyed in the Hurricane — They’re getting pennies on the dollar. His Insurance Commissioner does NOTHING, while Florida’s lives are ruined. This is the worst Insurance Scam in the entire Country!”
The Office of Insurance Regulation has been in flux, meanwhile.
David Altmaier stepped down in December after holding the position for six years, and he has since landed at The Southern Group. He will helm an insurance advisory practice for clients in Florida and beyond for the lobbying giant.
Previous Interim Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworsky was selected as a permanent replacement this week. DeSantis and members of the Cabinet — acting as the Financial Services Commission — unanimously elected Yaworsky to head the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR).
Neither Fried nor Trump remarked on the potential perils faced by the state’s insurer of last resort, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. DeSantis downplayed the viability of the company in Fort Myers, again raising solvency issues and warning about assessments that could hit all Floridians should another hurricane hit and impact too many of the company’s rate payers.
“I mean, I think as most people know, Citizens has not been not been solvent. If you did have a major, major hurricane hit with a lot of Citizens property holders, it would not have enough to pay out.”
“And the problem with that is one, just people who have a policy, of course, would be told that they wouldn’t be able to get what they need,” DeSantis added, before offering the warning about assessments.
“But in the law and this is not anything I did. Citizens has mandatory assessment authority for all policies in Florida. So you could be here, have no relation with Citizens. They could potentially assess your auto insurance policy. They could assess your homeowners different from Citizens, they could assess your renter’s insurance policy if you had, you know, a major, major capsize.”
DeSantis went on to note “efforts” to get the company on a “little bit more secure financial footing,” and to blame “discombobulations … over 20 years with this market.”
“As much attention as we’ve done and we’ve done three major bills in the last less than two years and we may do more this session and, and that’s important and we’ll do it, the change doesn’t change happen overnight,” DeSantis contended. “I mean, these are things that have happened over, over many years and even decades.”
DeSantis noted last year that Citizens was “unfortunately undercapitalized” and that the company could go “belly up” if it actually had to weather a major storm. Clearly those issues have yet to be resolved to the Governor’s comfort.
With DeSantis expected to launch a Presidential campaign after Sine Die, there is a significant chance that campaigning in 2023 or 2024 could be impacted by storm response if state law changes to allow him to stay in office while running for the GOP nomination or in the General Election. In 2018, the year he was elected, the stretch run of the campaign season was dominated by storm response for the hard hit Panhandle.
Then Gov. Rick Scott, who was running for the Senate at the time, spent a lot of time those final weeks tending to those issues. But for DeSantis, who would be facing a national campaign with national demands, it would be significantly harder for him to continue to message to GOP Primary or General Election voters if engaged in one of the more time consuming tasks Governors in Florida face. Moreover, a fumbling storm response during campaign season would cast a shadow over the “Florida Blueprint” message he’s trying to export to a national stage.
March 18, 2023 at 8:21 am
So he manages to stop frivolous law suits from the ambulance chasers, gets tons of donations from the insurance companies because he’s saving them a fortune and the average man in the street gets screwed again. No wonder his election strategy is to keep saying the word ‘woke’ repeatedly. He really doesn’t have much else to run on.
Earl Pitts American
March 18, 2023 at 9:44 am
Good morning America,
Its only a failure in the eyes of Ron Desantis’ ankle biters, like Nikki Fried, why The Donald is playing kisssy face with Nikki is beyond comperhension.
The rest of Earl Pitts American’s fan club know the reason for the insurance issues. WE HAD A CATASTROPHIC HURRICANE!
Jeeze why does it always fall on Earl’s strong and broad sholders to educate the world?
Because I am “The Man” thats why!
So America consider yourself’s educated!
Thank you America,
Earl Pitts American
March 18, 2023 at 11:05 am
“…the change doesn’t change happen overnight,” DeSantis contended.
Perhaps a high school level Public Speaking class could help this man.
March 18, 2023 at 7:24 pm
Like Deathsantis, Earl Pitts comment is idiotic.
Floridians want our government to help with the insane jump in home owners insurance costs, not fake issues like “woke disney” or not letting girls tell their teachers they got their period.
He is so busy trying to out-trump trump, that he is going to piss off every damn Floridian, including his cult followers, when they can’t afford insurance on their trailers.
It is unacceptable that insurance is jumping from $1200 a year to $5400, especially when no claims have been filed. It is all because of greed and Racist Ronnie getting kick backs from these companies that he allows to screw over his constituents.
Florida is not free. It sucks.
woke to the joke
March 19, 2023 at 9:11 am
The GOP and Alien Rick Scott gutted the State’s planning laws to allow more super risky development in coastal and wetlands areas. No smart insurance company will insure such risks. So GOP and Rick created Citizens Property Insurance and put a surcharge on everyone else’s homeowners policy to cover the inevitable losses. Look at your homeowners policy bill folks if you are not a Citizens customer and you will see. It’s not rocket science. Hurricanes are part of living in Florida. The massive losses from landfalling hurricanes are a certainty. There is no “fix” to the property insurance “problem” because greedy fools packed yankees into coastal and wetlands areas to make money and now we are screwed. You can expect more taxes and surcharges on your insurance to pay out on those foreseeable losses in the future. At some point a Cat 5 will visit Tampa Bay and it will be “game over”!
March 19, 2023 at 11:01 am
DiSantis does not care for the average floridian all he cares is the rich insurance company making as much as they want fro us so he can get his side donations I feel if you just got relected govener do your job for florida residents make our lifes better IF YOU WANNA BE PRESIDENT RESIGN AND RUN FOR THAT OFFICE FLORIDIAN ARE NOT PAYING YOU TO TRAVEL THE COUNTRY ON OUR DIME. STAY HOME DO YOUR JOB AND OR RESIGN FROM THE FLORIDA GOVENOR OFFICE . FLORIDA NEEDS A GOVENOR THAT WORKS FOR FLORIDA AND NOT FOR SELF IMBITIONS TO BE PRESIDENT.
March 19, 2023 at 12:21 pm
Florida property insurance mess started when Crist forced out the larger financially strong insurers then replaced them with a bunch of lowly capitalized, Florida only startups. Then he capped Citizens rates to compete with private insurers. Nikki Fried knows this – she said so during the Democratic primary when she ran against Crist. More recently, lawyers, roofers, and public adjusters found ingenious ways to milk the system, causing many of those weak Florida startup insurers to collapse. On top of that, some of these startup insurers were syphoning off premiums to pay huge administrative fees and bonuses to their executives. The Florida legislature had 2 opportunities to address this last year, but they failed twice. Then, DeSantis called another special session that resulted in some real reform – but it will take time to see the results. So, there’s plenty of blame to go around, but it started long before DeSantis.
March 20, 2023 at 7:39 am
It’s not getting much FL coverage, but last Friday DeSantis said Citizen’s is “not solvent.” https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2023/03/20/712840.htm
I’m sure he meant that Citizen’s doesn’t charge sufficient premiums to cover large losses that may be reasonably expected. And it’s clearly true.
Since Citizen’s was formed by merger during Bush’s administration, each (Republican) governor has quietly avoided dealing with the FL casualty insurance crisis, because each had presidential ambitions and each knew that the solution would mean much higher premiums for FL residents currently covered by Citizen’s. DeSantis did his part in this charade last December during the special session. But I guess that his political calculations have changed.
The story notes that Citizen’s doesn’t charge market rates–an important fact often omitted in media coverage. The story fails to mention that FL statutes prohibit all but minor annual rate increases, insuring that Citizen’s submarket premiums will continue to undermine its ability to pay claims for a major loss. The story also fails to mention that, if Citizen’s suffers a deficit due to its inability to pay loss claims, each and every policyholder in FL will pay a 3% surcharge on his homeowner’s, car, and boat policies every year until the deficit is paid.
Clueless, the Democrats argue against any change that raises the submarket premiums of Citizen’s policyholders. For their part, the Republicans blame the casualty insurance crisis, not on the subsidized competition of Citizen’s, but on attorneys and roofers. Relieved of “regulatory burdens, and enjoying an overly generous regulatory climate, insurers are reportedly denying legitimate Ian claims by improperly modifying adjusters’ reports.
So DeSantis has identified the problem in clear terms. The next steps are to remove the unfair competition posed by Citizen’s to private casualty insurers (by raising its rates to market or liquidating the company) and subjecting the private insurers to reasonable regulation.
DeSantis is PATHETIC
March 23, 2023 at 12:13 pm
Why do the hard work on fixing things that are actually important when there’s a nonsense Culture War to be fought?
March 26, 2023 at 8:39 am
hahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahaha. Thank you so much Earl Pitts American. Your delusions gave me quite the chuckle. At least you’re amusing even though you are happy to sink this state with Desantis.