Lawmakers are trying to find a way to lower home insurance premiums for Floridians.
A Florida Senate committee approved two bills during the special session at the State Capitol on Tuesday.
One bill’s author said that he couldn’t promise immediate relief for property owners and that he also can’t promise that your premium won’t increase even more, as well.
“You said there’s no guarantee, is there a guarantee that ratepayers won’t see an increase in their insurance rates?” asked state Sen. Bobby Powell, D-Palm Beach County.
State Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, said, “In terms of rate increases, I can’t guarantee that either, because between now and when the bulk of the bill that we believe the benefits of this bill will take place, it’s hard to say that there won’t be any rate increases.”
Boyd broke the news to his colleagues in the Senate Committee on Appropriations that property insurance premiums could still go up for Floridians in the coming weeks. He said increases already in the pipeline could become a reality for homeowners during what’s described as the worst property insurance crisis in the state’s history.
″One of my colleagues, Sen. Broxson, asked yesterday if I was a physician and I were classifying this as severe, critical or life-threatening or worse, where you put this on that scale, and I would say we are on a respirator in the homeowners market in Florida right now, and it’s not getting better,” Boyd said.
Boyd told lawmakers the only relief that homeowners can look forward to in the near future will come if their own insurance enrolls in what’s being called the Reinsurance to Assist Policyholders “RAP” fund, which gives property insurers a pipeline to state-backed money -- $2 billion that insurance companies can rely on in case of catastrophic loss. The fund would give insurance companies the financial confidence that they could pass on to the consumer, but only if the consumer’s insurance company agrees to enroll in the state program.
“If a carrier accepts this money, they have to do a supplemental rate filing with the Office of Insurance Regulation by June 30th of this year. If the Senate is kind enough to pass this bill, it will go into effect right away,” Boyd said.
Lawmakers also argued to pass an amendment that would allow any rulemaking to take place immediately. Under pressure, Boyd was asked if he can guarantee that the action taken in the special session will ultimately decrease home insurance premiums.
“We absolutely believe with the solicitation reform, the legal fee reform and other components of the bill, there will be relief. I can’t tell you what that is,” Boyd said.
One of the biggest takeaways for Florida homeowners from the past two days of hearings is that there is no quick and easy fix to this property insurance crisis. The Senate did vote to pass the amendment to make rulemaking immediate after both the House and Senate make a final ruling on new legislation.
The special session began Monday and is set to run to Friday.