Courtesy of Channel 4 CBS Miami
Published March 21, 2022
MIAMI – One issue the Florida Legislature failed to
address in this year’s session was the rise of homeowners insurance rates in
On Sunday’s “Facing South Florida,” CBS4’s Jim DeFede asked Republican State
Sen. Jeff Brandes if there is an insurance crisis in the state.
Brandes: Absolutely. I
think it’s a crisis on consumers. You know, we’ve had the
consumer advocates say that the insurance industry,
consumers are on life support. And what we see is 30% rate
increases every year for consumers going forward. That is a
huge problem. And if anybody doesn’t believe that rates
doubling every few years isn’t a problem, I don’t know what,
I don’t know what else to tell them. But we’re in a state of
absolute crisis and our property insurance, Citizen’s
Property Insurance, two years ago had about 480,000
policies. It now has 800,000 policies just a year and a half
later, and we expect it to be over a million policies by the
end of the year. In the meantime, we’re losing insurance
carriers. Carriers are pulling out of the state. Investors
are not investing in Florida. The industry as a whole lost
$1.5 billion in 2020. It lost $1.6 billion in 2021. And so
this is a market that’s in collapse.
DeFede: You would think that a legislative session that
is 60 days with two or three months before that of committee hearings would
have taken a deep dive on this issue and started tackling it on day one of
session. Why didn’t that happen this year?
Brandes: Absolutely. Look, this bill should have been worked on eight months
ago. And yet here we are on the 60th day of session in negotiations with the
House on what the insurance industry should look like going forward. I think
we’re headed towards a special session. I think it’s been an absolute
disaster of a year in the property insurance world, at least on the policy
front. But at the end of the day, look, the legislature dropped the ball on
property insurance this year. There’s no doubt about that, but it’s going to
take the governor to get engaged at a much deeper level and really force the
hand of the House and the Senate to put some meaningful insurance reforms on
the books. Because without that, you’re going to lose more companies.
Consumers are going to have less choices and prices are going to rise.
DeFede: I think what the number is, I saw recently, there are six companies
that have announced they’re pulling out of Florida just in the last couple
of months, correct?
Brandes: That’s correct. And we’ve had companies go to the Office of
Insurance Regulation and ask for a 100% rate increases. So we know it is all
hands on deck around here. And, unfortunately, we have some members that are
still sleeping below deck.
DeFede: As we focus so much time and attention on these so-called culture
war issues, whether it’s the ‘Stop WOKE Act,’ the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill,
immigration, whatever you want to want to deal with that ends up sucking up
all the time in the session where meaningful issues, whether it’s property
insurance or affordable housing, those are the big issues that I think
voters are more interested in hearing, and yet they’re not being addressed.
Why aren’t they being addressed?
Brandes: Well, look, my concern about this year going in was it was going to
be a red meat year, a red meat year, but it was not going to be a state red
meat year. It was going to be a national red meat year. And that’s exactly
how it played out. It’s, we’re taking on national issues that are on the
edges, you know? You know, the state of Florida getting involved in the
immigration world. You know, the ‘Stop WOKE Act,’ the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill,
those types of kind of nationalized issues that are meant for the national
audience. Meanwhile, you know, we have real problems of property insurance
and auto insurance and housing. Making housing more affordable. In just so
many different areas – criminal justice system or prison system is falling
apart. So we have we have a ton of different areas, but this just wasn’t a
policy heavy year. I mean, I kind of hearken back to the old Wendy’s
commercial where the lady opens up the bun and said, ‘Where’s the beef?’
That’s kind of how I felt about this legislative session.