State senator says Gov. DeSantis needs to ‘come home,’ call special session to address property insurance crisis

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There are new calls for accountability from lawmakers as Florida homeowners face record-breaking property insurance hikes and outright cancellations of their policies.

A Florida State Senator who represents Jacksonville is urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to call another special session on property insurance this summer with the single goal of creating savings and benefits for homeowners.

Senator Tracie Davis said lawmakers need to go back to Tallahassee as soon as possible because she said the new property insurance legislation signed last December provided insurance companies with support and stability but did nothing to immediately address the exponential growth in the amount Floridians pay for property insurance.

“Governor, come home and take care of your state. We all know that he’s running for president, but we have real problems, real issues, and the crisis with property insurance,” Davis said.

Davis wants a commitment from DeSantis that more will be done this summer to help Floridians who are struggling to pay their property insurance bill.

On average, Floridians are shelling out $6,000 a year on property insurance while the average price for the rest of America is about $1,700.

Republican lawmakers said the last special session was successful in putting legislation in place to cut down on insurance fraud and excessive litigation, and one-way attorney fees for property insurance claims. But insurance companies received more than $3 billion to stabilize their business while homeowners were forced to pay more or dropped from their coverage, she said.

“We went back to those special sessions and none, none of those special sessions did anything to provide any savings for policyholders at all,” Davis added.

News4JAX Viewer Kelly Morgan is feeling the pinch and said her premium went from $1,800 to $6,600 dollars a year.

Viewer Sharon Glover told News4JAX, “Our homeowner insurance increased $7,000…for a total of $10,600 for one year.”

“That’s why the legislature needs to do something to solve this problem,” Davis said. “We have options out there, but Floridians are running out of the options they have.”

News4JAX contacted DeSantis’ office and asked specifically if he would consider calling another special session on property insurance. While his spokesman didn’t provide a direct yes or no to the question, he did give examples of what lawmakers are doing to address the crisis.

Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern pointed to the record number of applicants of the Hometown Heroes program.

Redfern also wrote in part: “Florida’s property insurance market has been chaotic since 2007 when bad public policy forced insurers to flee Florida, and the state insurer of last resort, Citizens, ballooned...Even the most aggressive reforms will take time to affect the insurance industry. The 2021, 2022, and 2023 legislative efforts will be effective.”

Davis however said homeowners need financial relief now.

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Davis said, adding that she thinks insurance companies are going to continue to leave the state.

Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday that it will no longer offer coverage to Floridians, and 18 other Florida property insurance companies are on a government watch list because of concerns over their financial health.

The Office of Insurance Regulation however will not release the names of these companies because it doesn’t want to cause a panic, and some of these companies are expected to survive the property insurance crisis.

About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.