Gov. DeSantis to call Special Session on property insurance

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the Florida Legislature will be called back for a second…

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the Florida Legislature will be called back for a second Special Session in May during a press conference Monday.

DeSantis said he will be signing a proclamation to set the dates for the Special Session later this week, but is still working with legislative leaders on the dates. He said the main focus would be property insurance reform, but that other issues could be addressed.

The Governor had previously encouraged the Legislature to take up property insurance legislation when they meet next week for a Special Session on redistricting. DeSantis said during the press conference he was not confident it would be dealt with during this week’s Special Session, but is confident it can be dealt with during the May one.

“Issues like property insurance and trying to bring some sanity and stability, and have a functioning market, I’m confident that we’re going to be able to get that done,” DeSantis said.

The Special Session announcement comes as homeowners throughout the state have been hit with large rate hikes, companies have gone bankrupt and others have chosen not to renew policies. Some lawmakers, such as Sen. Jeff Brandes, have been pushing for a Special Session over the past several weeks.

Multiple companies have entered receivership in the last year and four others have refused to renew more than 120,000 policies. Some of the policies from defunct companies have been taken on by other carriers. But the more companies fail, the more likely policies will be paid by the Florida Insurance Guarantee Association, which will issue assessments on all insurers to pay claims under those failed companies. Assessments are ultimately passed on to homeowners through further rate increases.

It’s also more likely Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-run insurer designed to take on only the highest-risk policies in the state that the private market won’t cover, will assume thousands more policies. That leads to higher risk, and therefore a greater chance of assessments if a major hurricane hits and wipes out Citizens’ surplus.

Florida lawmakers attempted to address the issue in the 2022 Legislative Session, but the chambers couldn’t reach an agreement before it ended in March. The Senate passed SB 1728, which installed a new roof deductible and allowed Citizens to raise rates faster in an attempt to reduce the number of policies going into Citizens. Insurers have cited spikes in roof claims and litigation costs as the main drivers of their losses.

However, the proposal didn’t gain traction in the House, where House Speaker Chris Sprowls expressed concern that the changes could harm low- and fixed-income Floridians, who may not be able to afford higher roof deductibles. He was also skeptical that lawmakers that property insurance reforms passed in the 2021 Legislative Session had had time to take root.

The legislation died on the 60th day of the Session in mid-March.

DeSantis also left the door open for other issues to be addressed during the May Special Session.

“We may also address other issues that came close to getting across the finish line, that maybe we can tweak and get there,” he said.

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Florida Politics reporter Gray Rohrer contributed to this report.


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