Florida’s homeowners’ insurance market is about to be severely tested by Tropical Storm Idalia, and while the Legislature passed a package to support it this year, the Governor says he would have done more if he could.
“I’ve always wanted to do more than the Legislature wanted to do,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in Tallahassee.
“We got the Legislature to do a lot more this year than we’ve ever had. So, whatever is down the pike that could be beneficial to the market, I’m all ears for it.”
The Legislature has shored up the reinsurance market and made various legislative reforms recently, as insurers have bailed from Florida.
SB 2A, passed in December, provided $1 billion from the state’s general revenue fund to bolster the reinsurance market, to stop last year’s attrition of available providers. This followed up another $2 billion allocation from a Special Session in May 2022 for essentially the same purpose.
But despite that, DeSantis has been compelled to defend insurance changes, not just in Florida but during his presidential campaign, pushing back against the “false premise” that not enough had been done.
DeSantis said Monday that “reforms” had paid off, meanwhile, saying that the response to a potential storm strike this week “would likely be more feasible and sustainable than prior to our reform.”
The Governor believes “the fact that people are coming into the market for the first time in a long time shows that we identified problems and that we offered good solutions.”
However, he has acknowledged elsewhere that Floridians will need some luck to deal with this storm season, as he urged Florida homeowners to “knock on wood” and wait out the crisis during a radio interview earlier this month.
“I think they’re going to wait through this hurricane season and then I think they’re going to be willing to deploy more capital to Florida,” DeSantis said of insurance companies earlier this month on the Howie Carr Show. “So, knock on wood, we won’t have a big storm this summer. Then I think you’re going to start to see companies see an advantage.”
Those with policies from Citizens Property Insurance may need to knock the loudest. DeSantis noted last year that the state-sponsored insurer of last resort was “unfortunately undercapitalized” and that the company could go “belly up” if it actually had to weather a major storm.
DeSantis purportedly helped to boost the reinsurance market during his stop in England this spring. He met with British reinsurance companies, and “secured a commitment from companies in attendance to increase access for carriers serving Florida policyholders,” according to a media release from the Governor’s Office.
Despite these efforts, confidence is far from universal that recent fixes will help people this storm season.
House Speaker Paul Renner said last month that it “took years to get in the ditch and it will take a couple of years to get out of it.”
“Stop and think about it, here’s what happens for a company like Farmers to leave,” Scott said during a news conference. “They’ve spent years and decades to build up that clientele and just walk away. So this is a wake-up call to the state.”
The departure of Farmers came after seven other insurers went insolvent in the last year and is an indication to many homeowners and observers that the state’s insurance market is still in crisis. That’s despite new companies entering the market in recent months, such as Orion180 Select Insurance Company, Orion180 Insurance Company, Mainsail Insurance Company and Tailrow Insurance Company.