Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Faces Major Test in Property Insurance Special Session

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will meet with state legislators this week to address rising property insurance rates. According to a statement from DeSantis’ office, the special session will address solutions to stabilize Florida’s property insurance market that will introduce more competition and policies that will lower prices for consumers.

For the past year, property insurance reform has ranked among the top-tier concerns of Florida residents. Skyrocketing property insurance costs have been making headlines since last winter, as they’ve impacted not only homeowners along coastal communities, but also residents in the center region of the peninsula, where the governor enjoys some of his strongest support on policy and performance.

Mother nature elevated property insurance to the forefront after two hurricanes wreaked havoc across the Sunshine State, including record-setting levels of flood damage inflicted from storm surge brought into Cape Coral, Ft. Myers and Naples, when Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 hurricane, made landfall Sept. 28. DeSantis called for the Special Session on Oct. 20, and signed Executive Order (EO) 22-242 to “suspend deadlines for payment of property taxes in counties that have been impacted by Hurricane Ian” and “extends to real property including personal homes and commercial property that was destroyed or otherwise rendered uninhabitable.” Those counties included, Brevard, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns and Volusia Counties.

“Floridians who have lost their homes and businesses because of Hurricane Ian shouldn’t have to now worry about their property taxes,” DeSantis said. “Through this Executive Order, we are providing temporary relief until we can get the Legislature back to Tallahassee to establish more permanent solutions for property taxes, provide additional economic relief to Southwest Florida, and implement necessary reforms to the property insurance market. I look forward to working with our legislators to find innovative solutions and I am glad we have a legislature that’s ready and willing to address these issues soon.”

As legislators prepared for the Special Session, Hurricane Nicole added injury to insult, making landfall on Nov. 10. While Nicole was only a Category 1 Hurricane, thousands of homes on Florida’s Atlantic Coast were damaged.

Florida’s State House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell didn’t hold back criticism in her reply to the governor’s call for a special session.

“Florida’s property insurance collapse has been building for a long time!” Driskell said. “We should have worked to solve this problem during the last legislative session, or the special session afterwards, but instead the problem was ignored while companies folded or stopped writing policies in Florida. The governor and the Legislature played culture war politics while the media reported story after story about the housing insurance market “Experts said Florida was in trouble and homeowners knew it was true when their rates skyrocketed or companies dropped them,” Driskell added. “We’re glad Governor DeSantis is finally on board with what Florida Democrats have been saying the whole time: our property insurance market is in crisis and Floridians are suffering. I’m just sorry it took a hurricane to get him to act.”

In her newly-elected role as the state Democrats’ house leader, Driskell will have to find common ground for compromise, because Florida’s Democratic Party was dominated in the 2022 Midterm Election and hasn’t controlled the Florida State House of Representatives, the Florida Senate, or the governor’s office for more than two decades.

Matt O'Hern
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