Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a property insurance law aimed to reduce lawsuits and prohibit contractors from encouraging residents to file claims for roof damage.
But critics say part of the new property insurance reforms could negatively impact homeowners who get coverage through the state-backed insurance company, allowing Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to incrementally raise rates for customers over the years.
Citizens offers property insurance to Floridians who cannot find coverage through the private market, according to its website. The government-supported company was created by the Florida Legislature in 2002.
According to a legislative analysis, Citizens will be allowed to increase its current 10 percent cap on annual rates by 1 percent every year “beginning in 2022, until the cap reaches 15 percent in 2026.”
DeSantis signed the bill, SB 76, into law Friday during a roundtable discussion in Sarasota, where state lawmakers and others praised the governor for his support for property insurance reform.
However, advocacy groups such as Progress Florida, denounced the Republican governor for approving the measure that could make property insurance less affordable for people in Florida.
Progress Florida Executive Director Mark Ferrulo said in a statement:
“The Governor has raised taxes on all Floridians by $1 billion to fund tax cuts for the largest corporations, raised property taxes to slash impact fees for the largest developers, and now he’s raising property insurance rates for homeowners while making it easier for insurance companies to deny claims for damages and forcing people out of Citizens and into more expensive private plans.”
Proponents of property insurance reform, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce, argued that contractors in the state have been committing fraud by pushing homeowners to file roof damage claims, which trigger increases in insurance.
Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson said in a written statement:
“Florida has become a beacon for companies who canvass neighborhoods creating roofing claims that would not otherwise be filed, driving up the cost of insurance for everyone,” Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson said in a written statement: “To mitigate these rising premiums, this legislation prohibits predatory roofing advertisement to prevent the abuse of fraudulent claims by contractors trying to take advantage of homeowners.”
Mark Wilson, president & CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, said in a written statement:
“When Florida accounts for only 8 percent of the nation’s property insurance claims but 76 percent of national property insurance litigation, you know there is a problem. The Florida Chamber thanks Governor Ron DeSantis for signing SB 76, which addresses some of the root causes that are rapidly increasing homeowner’s insurance rates.”