TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In December, as state lawmakers returned for their second special session in less than a year to deal with property insurance, the analogies for the state of the market for some reason all reverted to medical.
“We’re just trying to triage,” said Senator Linda Stewart.
“Just trying to stop the bleeding,” said Representative Fred Hawkins.
Now months later, as things have continued to deteriorate, the medical analogies have returned.
“It’s now at stage four,” says former State Senator Jeff Brandes. “It’s going to take 18 to 24 months for things to start to stabilize, and in the meantime, it is going to get much worse.”
This week, the state-backed Citizen’s Property Insurance voted to move forward on a 14.2% rate increase for its 1.2 million policies. The rate request is above the statutory guidelines of 12%, indicating the pressure on the state-backed carrier.
Under former Governor Rick Scott, Florida paid insurance companies to take policies off the books from Citizens to help stabilize the market and reduce exposure for the state-backed insurance carrier of last resort. Florida could start to do the same thing now; however, Governor Ron DeSantis and the legislature have not indicated that is something they are considering right now.
Meanwhile, private carriers have gone before the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation requesting rate increases up to 60%.
“The containment system has failed on rates, and rates are going through the roof, and they are all justified rate increases, especially Hurricane Ian and what is going on in the reinsurance space,” says Brandes.
Reinsurance, the insurance that insurance carriers buy to protect themselves from high claims, has been a major concern for years, with carriers going into receivership as they struggle with costs.
In May, the Florida Legislature set aside $2 billion to help cover reinsurance, adding another $1 billion in December. The state has also passed several laws to limit the ability of homeowners to sue for claims while also curtailing the assignment of benefits and one-way attorney’s fees. The plan from state leaders was to create an environment where large private carriers, who have all but abandoned the state, would return.
That has not happened.
“I don’t think you’re going to see any new capital into the market until after hurricane season,” says Brandes.
Despite the rising rates, there is a level of optimism that things could level out in 2024. Experts, including former senator Brandes, say the moves taken by the state in 2022 should help stop the massive price hikes, although admitting it is unlikely prices will ever decrease.
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