Insurance Reforms Signed in Sarasota

Today’s news

Photo Courtesy of Senator Jim Boyd: Governor RonDeSantis signs reforms with Senator Boyd, local leaders in attendance.

A signing ceremony was held Friday in Sarasota for a review of Florida’s insurance rules. Governor Ron DeSantis promised at the event that the changes will help “turn the corner and achieve a better place for all Floridians.”

The location for the signing made sense on several levels, with Senator Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, arguing for the bill within the legislature this year, as well as some of the state’s largest insurance companies headquartered in the region. But what will the bill do to affect industry and consumers?

Boyd said he expects it to take a year to 18 months for insurance rates to fully reflect the impact in the law. Boyd, an insurance agent in his day job, said that’s the main end goal for the bill. “Every day we see our homeowners and customers face 20, 30 40, even 50% rate increases, and sometimes even higher,” he said.

When the new law goes into effect on July 1, there will be some immediate changes to the way business is conducted in Florida. Experts and roof inspectors are no longer allowed to offer free inspections or gift certificates, as many now do when trying to convince door-to-door homeowners to contract work. Boyd said many of the contractors are trying to convince homeowners to have their entire roof replaced afterward, often promising it will be completely covered, but a conflict arises between homeowners and carriers that could end up in court.

The legislation also changes the outlook for trial attorneys’ fees, something else that drives up costs for insurers in the state. Boyd noted during the legislative session that many insurance companies will not offer homeowners policies in Florida due to the litigious environment, and many domestic carriers in the state would lose money except for the rest of their investment portfolios.

It’s one of the reasons wider business groups have supported the new round of regulation. “If Florida only accounts for 8% of the nation’s property insurance claims, but 76% of the nation’s property insurance lawsuits, you know there’s a problem,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. He said the legislation “contains meaningful attorney fees reform to bring all parties to the table and put the reins in roofing practices that sparked lawsuits over questionable roofing claims.”

The new law will also allow Citizens Property Insurance, the state-run insurer of last resort, to raise its rates by more than 10% a year. By 2026, it could raise its own rates by as much as 15%. But that’s important, reform proponents say, to bring those fees more in line with the private market. Before the legislation was passed, the state insurer was taking on as many as 5,000 new policies each week, which could cause financial problems in the event of a major hurricane hitting state-insured homes.

Even before the legislation went into effect, Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said the state has seen trends shift. Less than 1,000 policies for citizens have been written since the legislature passed the bill on the last day of the session. He said this was a “positive development” and a sign that both private insurers were again offering competitive prices to citizens and that a greater number of carriers were willing to work within Florida again.

Photo Courtesy of Senator Jim Boyd: Governor RonDeSantis signs reforms with Senator Boyd, local leaders in attendance.

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