Florida is currently facing a property insurance crisis that is affecting hardworking families and the elderly. The inflation caused by “Bidenomics” has resulted in skyrocketing insurance premiums, leaving many Floridians struggling to afford coverage. To make matters worse, insurers like AAA and Farmers are leaving the state, reducing choices and increasing prices.
During my time as governor, I prioritized the growth of Florida’s private insurance market to provide more options for residents. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening now, with the state-run insurer of last resort, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., growing threefold since I left office. Citizens currently holds 1.3 million policies, a significant increase from the 430,000 policies it held when I was governor. This growth has led to Citizens’ share of the property insurance market ballooning from 6% to 16%, while the private insurance market diminishes.
The problem with this growth is that Citizens is no longer fully funded, making it incapable of covering all the claims it is responsible for in the event of a massive storm. The only solutions would be to impose higher fees on policyholders, introduce new tax assessments on Florida families, or both. These options are unacceptable and would burden residents further.
The average property insurance cost for Floridians has doubled since I was governor, leading to concerns that living in the state will become unaffordable for many families and businesses. The elderly and low-income households are particularly at risk of being negatively impacted by rising premiums.
It is imperative that state leaders take action to address Florida’s out-of-control property insurance market. I urge them to focus on three critical steps. First, they must promote the growth of the private insurance market to increase competition and responsiveness to homeowners’ needs. This should be accompanied by measures to fight fraud and abuse and prevent excessive rate increases.
Second, additional reforms should be implemented to ensure fair treatment of policyholders, timely claim payments, and transparent communication regarding coverage changes. State law should be revised to extend the notification period for policy non-renewals from 60 to at least 120 days. This would provide families more time to find alternative options and avoid potential homelessness due to insurance loss.
Lastly, the size and scope of Citizens should be reduced to its original role as the insurer of last resort. This would help drive down insurance costs and ensure full funding, enabling the payment of legitimate claims without imposing higher fees or taxes on policyholders.
As a former governor, I understand that regulating property insurance is a state issue that requires dedicated efforts. When State Farm left Florida in 2009, it had a detrimental impact on policyholders. Rebuilding communication and finding solutions allowed State Farm and other insurers to provide affordable coverage to families once more.
I believe that the leadership at Citizens is working towards reducing its policy load and that state leaders are dedicated to resolving the crisis. They may even consider calling a special session to address the issue. This is not just common sense; it is crucial for the economic stability and peace of mind of millions of Florida families, especially the elderly. People need to feel secure in their coverage and confident that they will not be dropped by insurance companies when they need support the most.
While the possibility of a hurricane impacting Florida is a constant reality, it should not financially strangle residents or deter them from owning homes in the state. Swift action is needed to rectify the property insurance crisis and provide affordable and reliable coverage to all Floridians.