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Florida Legislator Vows Proposed Legislation Will Drastically Lower Insurance Rates

Florida lawmaker promises new bill would drop insurance rates like a rock

In Tampa, Florida, a legislative proposal has been introduced, aiming to bring about a significant reduction in property insurance premiums. House Bill 1213 seeks to fundamentally transform the role of Citizens Property Insurance, shifting it from the state’s insurer of last resort to the primary choice for windstorm coverage.

State Rep. Spencer Roach, a Republican representing Lee County and a Hurricane Ian survivor, has joined forces with a Democrat to craft this bill.

Motivated by the perceived failure of Florida’s insurance companies, including those covering him and his neighbors, Roach advocates for making Citizens the preferred provider for windstorm coverage.

Florida lawmaker promises new bill would drop insurance rates like a rock - YouTube

Four days following the impact of Hurricane Ian, the documentation of the damage to Rep. Roach’s home in Fort Myers was underway. On cell phone video, he pointed out, “This is the main room here…you can still see water on the deck.” The aftermath of the storm inundated his home with at least 18 inches of water, causing visible damage such as warping doors.

The recovery process spanned months, and during this period, Roach faced challenges with his insurance company, UPC, which not only provided a low-ball estimate but eventually went out of business, making it a particularly arduous year for him and his neighbors.

In the aftermath of these challenges, Roach, a Republican, and State Rep. Hillary Cassel, a Democrat, initiated a collaborative effort to address the broader issues of insurance rates and claims settlements. Faced with the question of how to reduce rates while ensuring full claims payments, Roach asserted, “I have what I think, if I could be so bold, as the solution to this crisis.”

This bipartisan brainstorming reflects their commitment to finding innovative solutions to the insurance crisis that not only affected Roach personally but also impacted his community.

This week, the filing of HB 1213 by the duo marked a significant step towards the complete restructuring of Citizens.

Currently, individuals who are unable to secure coverage from the private market resort to the state-owned Citizens, offering protection against various perils such as windstorms, fire, and theft.

Lower insurance rates not coming soon, Florida lawmakers say

If this bill is enacted into law, a paradigm shift would occur. Citizens’ role would be refined to exclusively provide windstorm coverage. No longer relegated to the status of the insurer of last resort, Citizens would transition into an accessible option for all, offering economical rates across the board.

State Rep. Roach likened the proposed transformation to the National Flood Insurance Program but at the state level, focusing solely on wind damage instead of flood-related risks. Roach envisions Florida eventually embracing the concept of universal wind coverage.

Despite this vision, insiders from the insurance industry have expressed concerns, deeming it a perilous idea with the potential to financially strain the state and lead to bankruptcy.

While Citizens has not issued a response to requests for comment, recent years have seen the organization aiming to contract rather than expand its operations.

The significant question looms: By whom would collecting premiums and maintaining solvency be better executed when the moment arrives to settle claims?

According to Roach, the insurers’ modus operandi involves accumulating wealth and subsequently withdrawing from their commitments.

While acknowledging the imperfections in his proposed bill, Roach asserts that the time has come to delve into this concept.

As of now, Roach has encountered challenges in securing a senator willing to sponsor a counterpart version of this bill in the legislative chamber.

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