TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida Senate waived rules on Tuesday and voted on two proposed insurance bills during the special session.
The Senate bill passed and will head to the Florida House next. Sources say the House will most likely take up the Senate bill and pass it. The insurance reforms could be signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis by the close of business Wednesday.
Meanwhile, from roofers to insurers, the stakeholders are clashing over the cause of Florida’s property insurance crisis. The troubles have been longstanding and complicated.
“It is the worst I’ve ever seen in 17 years,” said Allen McGinniss.
McGinniss sells property insurance to homeowners. Lately, he says his phone has been ringing off the hook. Homeowners are dealing with rate hikes and cancellations as Florida enters hurricane season.
He says the proposed legislation during the special session doesn’t deal with a major problem.
“The issue is roofs, roofs and roofs – that’s it. It’s roof replacement schemes that are absolutely wrecking consumers,” said Allen.
Richie Kidwell, the president of the Restoration Association of Florida, says roofers are the ones fighting for consumers.
“We’re a nonprofit association for contractors, by contractors,” Kidwell said.
He’s not a fan of the proposed bills either.
“There’s nothing in the bill that says if we hit X, we will lower rates,” he said.
Kidwell says Florida’s insurance commissioner is rubber-stamping rate hikes, creating the crisis.
But data shows Florida has a lawsuit problem. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), Florida had more than 100,000 property insurance lawsuits last year. III contends no other state had more than 900.
Kidwell says in Florida, insurance companies slow walk claims.
“Why do we have so many more lawsuits if we don’t have a roofing issue?” 8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi asked.
“Well I think the other part of the equation we’re missing is there’s six and a half million policies out there and over 1.3 million claims filed after Irma and only less than 10 percent of them – claims were filed. And of that percentage, I think only 30% of those actually went to litigation,” he said. “Two years after Hurricane Michael, they said 20,000 claims were still open.’
Kidwell says a lawsuit is the only recourse in the state.
“Florida just seems to be a litigious state only for the fact to create this crisis,” he said. “We didn’t see rates come up until January and why is that reason? It was because a session was coming and they had to create a crisis.”
During the special session on Tuesday, Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier was grilled by lawmakers in the Florida House. They wanted to know why he approved rate hikes.
In the past, Altmaier has released data showing insurance companies are not acting differently in Florida, as compared to other states. Altmaier says Florida insurance companies deny the same amount of claims as those in other states.
8 On Your Side will be in Tallahassee for the remainder of the special session.