After weeks of debate, Florida lawmakers passed insurance reform bills at the tail end of session. In the end, lawmakers passed legislation potentially leading to rate increases for customers of the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
Legislators also took steps to reduce the amount of roof-damage claims and lawsuits due to concerns of hurricane damage claims being filed long after the storm.
SB 76 would bolster an insurance market that is seeing rate-increases and an increase in customers to Citizens’ Property Insurance, said Sen. Jim Boyd (R-21), sponsor of the bill.
“I do believe it will help the market kind of rebuild itself,” said Boyd.
Those in the insurance industry claim the raising of rates recently is due to potentially fraudulent roof-damage claims, leading the legislation to contain provisions restricting the amount of roof-related claims consumers can file.
However, groups like the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF) and the Consumer Protection Coalition (CPC) are calling on Governor Ron DeSantis to veto the legislation citing potential cost hikes for insurance.
“We are extremely concerned that this bill would substantially increase rates for our customers and Florida residents who can least afford an increase, while forcing hundreds of thousands of Floridians already struggling to pay current premiums to drive without insurance,” said Michael Carlson, president and CEO of PIFF.
Some lawmakers expressed an opposition to the bill saying the repeal of the state’s no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) system could have adverse effects on rates.
“Florida already has some of the highest rates in the country and unfortunately if you are just struggling to make it… [and] buying just PIP today, rates will go up 40 percent,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-24).
Some supporters of the legislation said the bill didn’t go far enough, and opponents said the bill would adversely hurt the people they’re trying to help. Despite the disagreement, most Florida lawmakers contended the prospect of rising insurance rates needed to be curbed.
A recent study showed nearly $15 billion were spent on claims in Florida, but only 8 percent went to policyholders to fix the damage. Plaintiff attorneys got 71 percent and defense attorneys got the rest.
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