TALLAHASSEE — As the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. continues to swell, officials this week hailed action by lawmakers in a special legislative session to resolve the struggling insurance market goods.
But they said it could be over a year before many tangible changes are seen.
Citizens President and CEO Barry Gilway told the consumer services committee of the agency’s board of governors that he hopes the changes will “stabilize the market”. He mainly pointed to some of the legislation that provided $2 billion to provide additional reinsurance to property insurers who might otherwise not be able to purchase the crucial relief coverage in the private market.
“I think the hope is that the immediate impact would be that it might loosen some of the purse strings with the reinsurance community,” Gilway said.
But Gilway added that most insurance laws that are passed don’t have “real impact” until they go through the entire insurance policy cycle, “which, as you know , is at least 16 to 18 months”.
“So nothing immediate,” he added.
Created as an insurer of last resort for homeowners unable to find other coverage, Citizens had 875,413 policies as of Friday, down from 589,041 policies as of April 30, 2021 and 453,911 policies as of April 30, 2020.
In last week’s special session, lawmakers did not directly address issues such as citizen growth and its bonuses. Lawmakers have made changes that involve the entire market, such as allowing insurance policies to include new deductibles for roof damage, placing restrictions on insurers seeking to refuse to underwrite or renew policies based on the age of roofs and impose additional restrictions on so-called “bad faith” lawsuits against insurers.
The Restoration Association of Florida and Air Quality Assessors, LLC, an Orlando company that does work such as mold testing and leak detection, filed a constitutional challenge on Tuesday to part of the legislation that restricted fees counsel in proceedings arising from the “granting of benefits”. .” In assignment of benefits, owners assign insurance claims to contractors. Contractors are then able to seek payment from insurance companies, often resulting in litigation that private insurers have long blamed for skyrocketing costs.
Christine Ashburn, Citizens’ head of communications, legislative and external affairs, told the Consumer Services Committee that “you’re going to see carriers move relatively quickly” on some parts of the legislation dealing with roof damage claims. In recent years, insurers have blamed questionable, even fraudulent, roof claims for driving up costs.
Otherwise, agreeing with Gilway that people won’t see immediate changes, Ashburn said “these are all big steps in the right direction”.
U.S. Representative Charlie Crist’s role in helping launch charter schools in Florida is water under the bridge, or so it seemed on Tuesday when Crist traveled to Miami Springs to get the endorsement of the state’s largest teachers’ union in its bid to become governor.
When Crist was a Republican state senator, he co-sponsored the 1996 legislation that allowed Florida’s first charter schools to open.
Nonetheless, Crist — now a Democrat — was the gubernatorial hopeful who won the endorsement of the Florida Education Association, which has 150,000 members, on Tuesday. Crist was joined at the South Florida stop by FEA President Andrew Spar and local union representatives.
A reporter asked Karla Hernandez-Mats, president of the United Teachers of Dade union, about Crist’s past support for charter schools.
But Crist took the first crack at the question.
“So yeah, I sponsored the charter school bill in Florida in the ’90s. It was a whole different animal. You had to get local school board approval for every move. Accountability was there. It doesn’t anymore, at least not as much as it should,” Crist said.
“And what I do know is that if we can have other schools helping students, that’s fine,” Crist added. “I don’t want to reduce any educational opportunities. But I want to make sure, above all, that we fund our public schools as they deserve.
Spar defended Crist’s support for the charters, essentially arguing that public school enrollment has remained at the same level since its genesis, but public school funding has not. Charter schools are public schools but are usually operated by private organizations.
“When vouchers and charters began over 20 years ago, 90% of Florida students attended our public schools. There really was no difference. The only difference is that funding for our public schools has dropped, our funding for teachers and staff has dropped, vacancies in our schools have increased dramatically,” Spar said.
Spar said Crist “understands” the issue and will provide adequate funding to public schools.
But Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who faces Crist and State Senator Annette Taddeo in the Democratic primary in August, criticized Crist for changing her position over the years.
“The Charlie Crist of yesterday, today and tomorrow is everything that is wrong with politics. Yesterday’s Charlie was the same state senator who sponsored the biggest expansion of charter schools. Yesterday’s Charlie was the same education commissioner under Governor Jeb Bush who broke unions and worse as governor. Today’s Charlie tells us it was “completely different” and not his fault. Our children and our teachers cannot trust the Charlie of tomorrow,” Caroline Korba, Fried’s publicist, said in a statement to the News Service of Florida.
TWEET OF THE WEEK: “The dollar range shown is a conservative estimate. I love our state and don’t necessarily defer on my own terms, but the request of me and my family to voluntarily lead a mission bloody suicide without the necessary institutional support and resources is too great.- Rep. Michael Grieco, D-Miami Beach, (@Mike_Grieco) in a series of tweets explaining his departure from the 36 Senate District race.