DeSantis signs two bills to address state's insurance issues

DeSantis signs two bills to address state's insurance issues | Insurance Business America

DeSantis signs two bills to address state's insurance issues

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed two bills that address the ongoing disaster recovery and property insurance woes plaguing the state.

The governor signed Senate Bill (SB) 4-A, which provides $750 million for additional disaster relief to Floridians, particularly those affected by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. Also known as the Disaster Relief bill, SB 4-A provides property tax relief for homes that were rendered uninhabitable due to storms.

Of the $750 million being provided under the bill, $350 million will go to support local governments for FEMA Public Assistance, which enables them to free up more local funds for additional hurricane recovery and mitigation projects.

Another $150 million will go to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to support local beach renourishment projects and a new Hurricane Restoration Reimbursement Grant Program, while $100 million will go to the DEP to repair and reconstruct community stormwater and wastewater infrastructure. Finally, the remaining $150 million will be used to support the Hurricane Housing Program and Rental Recovery Loan Program.

Following the special session last week, the governor also signed Senate Bill 2-A, the Property Insurance bill. The bill eliminates one-way attorney fees for property insurance claims, to disincentivize frivolous lawsuits and ultimately help drive down home insurance costs. It also enhances the Office of Insurance Regulations' ability to conduct examinations of property insurers following a hurricane to prevent any abuse of the appraisal process, reduces timelines for insurers to hand out payouts, and commits additional funding for temporary reinsurance support.

SB 2-A has been met with some praise from the insurance industry.

"Insurance fraud and abuse is rampant in the state of Florida, costing homeowners and insurance carriers billions of dollars each year," said NICB president and CEO David Glawe in a statement. "We thank the Florida legislature, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and his office, as well as Governor DeSantis for working together to stabilize the Florida property insurance market and address the decades-long fraud and abuse that has plagued the state."

However, some have expressed concerns that SB 2-A could do more harm than help.

“Floridians are losing yet again,” said Florida House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell of Tampa, as reported by Florida Politics. “I worry for our neighbors on fixed incomes. How many people are going to lose their homes before this ‘trickle down’ plan offers any relief? I’m worried about Florida’s retirees. This bill definitely wasn’t written to help them.”