The property insurance crisis is affecting everybody in Florida, and the state’s Senior Senator is no exception.
“It’s getting really tough for a lot of people out there,” the Senator said, before offering insights into how a regional problem is everyone’s problem now.
“When I was in the state Legislature, property insurance was a Southeast Florida problem. It has now become statewide. Part of it is driven by the fact that these companies don’t want to write policies here anymore. The fewer companies you have writing policies, the fewer choices there are, the more expensive it gets. It’s not an easy problem to solve, because those markets are largely set internationally. It’s complicated. There’s reinsurance involved, and that’s written offshore, outside of the United States. But it most certainly is one of those issues on my radar.”
The Senator said commercial insurance was also up, which “drives up rents, which in turn drives up prices, which fuels itself.”
But he cautioned that the issue is Florida’s and not Washington’s to solve.
“It doesn’t have an easy solution, other than figuring out ways to make Florida a more competitive state for property insurance. I’m not sure there’s a federal nexus to how to solve it. It really is a state-regulated market, but it is an issue on my radar, just as a Floridian and as someone who lives here. I don’t know anyone who’s not impacted by it.”
Recent polling commissioned by the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) accords with Rubio’s take, with 21% of General Election voters saying that’s their biggest concern. While Special Sessions have been called to stabilize the market, legislative fixes to curb so-called “lawsuit abuse” and a $2 billion program using taxpayer money as a reinsurance fund have yet to produce any significant savings for Florida policyholders.
While on the campaign trail last year, meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis once suggested policyholders should “knock on wood” and hope to get through 2023’s storm season. He also claimed part of the reason for high insurance rates may be that insurers are too woke.
“But I think I’m concerned about this ESG, I’m concerned about them trying to say climate change and everything because that’s going to make some of these things very, very expensive if they’re pricing in all these things that very well may not happen. And that’s new from where we were 20 or 30 years ago.”
The Governor’s comments came just days after the U.S. Senate Budget Committee began a probe of Citizens Property Insurance and its ability to handle underwriting losses, including the question as to whether the state insurer might need a federal bailout. That investigation is ongoing.
It’s possible that the bungled insurance market could have hurt DeSantis’ presidential campaign before it ended, meanwhile. Former President Donald Trump made a campaign issue of Florida’s troubled insurance sector.
The Governor’s current budget proposal included $431 million in breaks for people who have struggled with property insurance costs in recent years that the Governor’s Office says will save policyholders 6% on their premiums.
The plan includes a one-year holiday from taxes, fees and assessments affecting homeowners insurance policyholders, with $409 million allocated for these costs for policies of up to $750,000 written between July 1, 2024, and June 30, 2025. The insurance premium tax, the Fire Marshal assessment and the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association assessment are all under this umbrella.
His hope for the market is to “see more capital come online,” as “ultimately, this is not something that’s run by the government.”
The issue has been a stumbling block despite efforts to cure it. The Governor recently blamed the Legislature for not implementing insurance reforms he wanted, then refused to say what those reforms were when asked directly.
Drew Wilson of Florida Politics contributed to this report.