Florida Senate passes industry-friendly homeowners insurance reforms

Legislators beefed up reinsurance, cracked down on consumer litigation during special session

Kathleen Passidomo and Ron DeSantis
Kathleen Passidomo and Ron DeSantis (Getty, Kathleen Passidomo)

In its second special session on homeowners insurance this year, the Florida Senate rushed through a reform bill on Tuesday to bolster the state’s flailing insurance industry with taxpayer funding and a crackdown on litigation.

The bill’s Republican supporters say it will stabilize the homeowners insurance market, while the Democrat-led opposition to the bill says it does little to protect consumers and reduce rates, the Sun Sentinel reported.

In a 24-13 vote, the Senate passed a bill that adds $1 billion of taxpayer funding to Florida’s reinsurance fund, and does away with a law that required that insurers pay the homeowner’s legal fees no matter the outcome of any lawsuit brought against them, according to the outlet.

Another bill passed in the special session gives a property tax break for homes damaged by hurricanes.

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Republican leaders called the special session last week at the urging of Gov. Ron DeSantis. The legislature held another special session on homeowners insurance in May, when it voted to add $2 billion of taxpayer funding to the reinsurance fund.

Republicans hold a supermajority in the state legislature following November’s election, and addressing Florida’s homeowners insurance crisis is high on the agenda. Florida homeowners pay the highest insurance premiums in the U.S., and premiums are rising at a rate of 33 percent per year, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

With climate change causing more frequent and more devastating storms, the costs for insurers are rising and sending them running from the Florida market. This year alone, nine homeowners insurance providers abandoned the market, Insurance.com reported.

The Florida House is expected to pass the reforms on Wednesday.

Kate Hinsche