Another special session will take place later in December, but some challenges must be handled first.
Former Republican Florida Senator Jeff Brandes, who launched a petition calling for lawmakers to convene this spring to tackle Florida’s critical property insurance market, is now calling for additional reforms to take place ahead of this month’s additional special session.
The former senator has been making these moves from the sideline to try to push more reforms along.
“It’s the most urgent pocketbook problem facing Florida today,” said former Senator Brandes, who previously represented part of Pinellas County until the November election when he reached his term limit. Though he is now retired from the legislature, he intends to remain active in addressing key state issues while he simultaneously pursues his real estate career. His goal is to establish a think tank concentrating on a number of key Florida issues, including property insurance.
“This is the Achilles’ heel of the Florida real estate market. This is the Achilles’ heel of Florida’s growth,” said Brandes. “If Florida doesn’t get this right, then what you’re going to do is cut the middle class in the state because people will not be able to afford homes.”
Florida homeowners have faced substantial increases in their property insurance rates in recent years.
Those who have purchased coverage through the private market in Florida have seen an average annual rate increase of about 33 percent, according to a recent WFSU report. Next year, that rate increase is expected to be closer to 40 percent, said the same report.
Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, the state-backed insurer of last resort, is now covering more than one million policyholders. Those policies are offered at a rate of at least 20 percent below market value.
Among the main challenges for private insurers include difficult market conditions in Florida due to substantial litigation and fraudulent claims. Those issues have only been compounded by inflation. Moreover, six insurers have withdrawn from the state in 2022, leaving greatly reduced market competition. Over a dozen more insurers are riding the line just above insolvency.
State lawmakers will meet on December 12 through 16 for a special legislative session in Tallahassee, during which time they are seeking to repair the crumbling property insurance market.