State Senators Demand Transparency, Action on Florida Property Insurance Emergency

State Senators Demand Transparency, Action on Florida Property Insurance Emergency

State Senators State Lauren Book and Jason Pizzo hold a roundtable discussion with Michael Yaworski, Office of Insurance Regulation.

By Bryan Boggiano

State Senator and Minority Leader Lauren Book and State Senator Jason Pizzo urged state officials to do more to address the state’s growing property insurance emergency on Wednesday.

The two senators hosted an online roundtable discussion with Michael Yaworski, Office of Insurance Regulation commissioner.

They discussed everything from the current state of the market, fraud, reforms, and not having access to information they consider vital to making legislative decisions.

“Floridians are upset, concerned, and worried because [insurance] is something they have to rely upon for the most valuable possession, often, they have,” Book said.

Book and Pizzo pressed Yaworski to validate the claim that while Florida makes up eight percent of the national insurance market, it accounts for anywhere between 77 and 79 percent of all claims.

The state legislature has not received any data or reports to support or refute that claim. Pizzo said the state hinders the legislature’s ability to pass meaningful reforms.

The OIR wanted to release data in 2016, but a court order blocked it. Pizzo also voted on a bill to address the data and the market, but nothing has changed.

“We’ve been getting more info from our federal government on UFOs in the past year than we have on insurance data from the state of Florida,” he said.

According to Yaworski, the status of Florida’s insurance market dates back to Hurricane Andrew, when insurers realized they were not calculating risk properly.

While the industry faced pressure after the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, conditions eased through the mid-2010s, when the state faced no major hurricane threats.

But, signs of trouble began to emerge in what Yaworski calls the most complicated insurance industry in the country and the most sophisticated globally.

Between 2010 and 2011, Citizens Property Insurance had 1.3 million policyholders. By 2015, that figure declined to under 475,000.

“You had a lot of new companies take on a ton of new risk,” Yaworski said.

Since 2015, major disasters such as hurricanes Irma and Ian and the Surfside Condominium Collapse strained the already fragile industry. Numerous companies, he said, were unable to handle the financial risk and went insolvent.

However, recent events such as Hurricane Idalia do not seem to be having as bad of an impact, according to Yaworski. After Ian, the state had more than 62,000 claims the day after the storm. After Idalia, that number was 2,715.

Yaworski said the state currently has fewer large national carriers than desired, while most policyholders are either through Citizens, Surplus Lines, or other domestic property insurance companies.

Other states, he said, do not have a similar insurance ecosystem.

Pizzo expressed concerns that insurance companies were not accurately calculating financial risk and rates. He also asked whether the state was wrong about the propensity of risk or if the industry was wrong about its projections.

Despite the bleak picture, Yaworski said he approved five additional companies into the state’s marketplace. But, this comes as Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law stating companies do not have to pay attorney fees for plaintiffs.

Pizzo said he would introduce legislation to hold companies accountable who deny a high amount of small claims, to obtain the unreleased litigation data, and allow condominiums to negotiate rates collectively.

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Author Profile

Bryan Boggiano

Bryan Boggiano
Bryan has a degree in journalism from the University of Florida and earned his masters in geosciences from Florida International University, where he focused in atmospheric sciences. His interests include weather, entertainment, and municipal government.

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