Four days before lawmakers begin a special session to address Florida’s troubled property insurance market, U.S. Rep. charlie christa Democratic gubernatorial candidate, released a seven-point plan on Thursday to prevent the steep rate hikes and rolled back policies that homeowners have seen this year.
It calls for a new insurance commissioner, eliminating fees that fund the state-backed reinsurance fund and forcing companies that offer car insurance to also offer coverage to owners.
In a released statement, Crist touted his record as a governor, while as a Republican he repeatedly clashed with insurance companies. Crist took over in 2007, when the fallout from the 2004-05 storm seasons, which saw several hurricanes hit the state, was still rippling through the market.
At one point, State Farm threatened to leave the state entirely due to Crist’s efforts to thwart rate increases.
“The property insurance market in Florida is in a slump,” Crist said. “When I was in Tallahassee, I went up against the big insurance companies, took them online, and lowered the rates for Floridians. Period. It’s time for Governor DeSantis and his GOP allies to step up and fight for Floridians.
The seven planks of Crist’s plan include:
— Enactment of the Affordable Homeowners Insurance Refueling Act, or FAITH Act, an originally published proposal by Crist on 5 May. He calls for the creation of a federal fund to lend money to states to reduce reinsurance costs.
– Elimination of the 25% surcharge that homeowners pay to the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, or CAT Fund, which acts as a reinsurance fund to help insurers pay major hurricane claims.
— Lower the threshold for the CAT Fund, so owners can save money. Crist’s plan calls for cutting the CAT fund’s tether from $8.2 billion to $4.5 billion, meaning insurance companies could dip into the CAT fund for a storm that has caused $4.5 billion in damage, instead of another that caused $8.2 billion. State Senator Jeff Brandes, a Republican from St. Petersburg, lobbied for a similar provision in the regular session, but it never gained popularity. Brandes said it could save homeowners $150 a year on premiums, but CAT Fund officials feared it would increase the risk of draining CAT Fund resources and forcing it to borrow money. money to pay claims, which would increase the expenses of all policyholders in the event of an asset. , damaging the storm season.
— Install a new insurance commissioner who “will maintain the line on rate increases”. Current Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier approved numerous rate increases for insurers, who say they have been hit by skyrocketing litigation costs and roofing claims in recent years, and inflation is pushing repair costs even higher. But Crist could not appoint a new commissioner on his own. It should also get cabinet approval.
– Push companies that sell auto insurance in the state to also sell home insurance. Some companies, such as USAA, have stopped offering new policies in Florida, although they continue to service old policies.
— Creation of an insurance fraud task force to crack down on fraudulent claims.
— Provide free wind inspections and incentives for homeowners to protect their homes from hurricane damage. Crist wants to resurrect the “My Safe Florida Homes” program he oversaw as governor.