Lawmakers in Tallahassee say they have the solution to Florida’s insurance crisis.
Representatives Spencer Roach from Fort Myers and Representative Hillary Cassel from Dania Beach proposed that state-run Citizens Property Insurance cover wind claims for anyone in the state who wants it.
Roach, whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Ian, said premiums that insurers take during years without hurricanes would be put into a state-run pool and accrued, then be available when a hurricane hits.
“These premiums that people would pay for this coverage would continue to build and build and build and could be used subsequently to pay off these claims instead of having those profits siphoned off to either another corporate entity or management company,” he said. “Then those collateral reserves are not there when the claims need to be paid out. That’s the problem we’re experiencing in Florida. You would not have that problem if you had a universal wind coverage under Citizens,” Roach said.
He told his colleagues on Tuesday it’s a concept that has been used in California and Texas.
“It provided claims and only claims for all natural disasters and left the private market to pick up the rest. The result: rates dropped like a stone.”
Citizen’s CEO, Tim Cerio, said the move would increase its reinsurance costs by 645 percent, from $650 million last year to nearly $5.6 billion.
“This is a very different change in direction that would fundamental change the mission of Citizens,” Cerio said. “The bottom line to all of these points is that assessments, or the potential for assessments, is going to increase exponentially.”
Roach and Cassel said predictions of a massive reinsurance cost increase are overblown, though.
“Now is our opportunity to create a program where Florida saves Florida,” Cassel stated. “We protect our neighbors, and we create a fund that will be there for us and a rainy day when these insurance companies leave us high and dry.”
Some lawmakers, though, said they’re skeptical about the idea. Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis said he doesn’t think it’s a good idea.
The bill isn’t scheduled for any committees right now, but Roach and Cassel said it’s a topic they need to continue to discuss because it’s a problem that’s not going away.