sentinel editorial

Another insurance special session. What now?

As of 4 pm Friday, no bills had yet been posted on the Florida Legislature’s website for the special session on property insurance. The scheduled week-long session starts Monday.

This is not good government. Floridians shouldn’t expect dramatic relief from whatever legislators pass. We all know better because we’ve seen this movie before.

Seven months ago, legislators met in a special session to update the insurance legislation they had passed two years ago. Back in May, everyone agreed that even in a best case scenario, homeowner premiums would not drop. But if hurricane season wasn’t too bad, perhaps they wouldn’t go up too much in 2023.

Instead, we got the devastation of Ian and Nicole. Insured losses just from Ian could hit $50 billion, though some of that will be from flood damage, which falls under a federal program.

If Florida had a property insurance crisis before Ian and Nicole, it got worse. Twelve more companies have stopped writing policies. The state’s $13 billion reinsurance fund, a subsidy to help carriers pay claims in bad years, will take a financial hit. All policyholders will pay to replenish it.

This crisis threatens the state’s real estate market. It puts Floridians at risk of being unable to rebuild after a storm because their damages exceed what companies will pay.

Given the complexity of insurance, a functioning Legislature would start by getting the most reliable information possible about the problem. That would start with extensive committee hearings well before the regular session and continue with as much debate as possible.

Instead, legislators will have the weekend, maybe, to read long, detailed bills and prepare for floor debate as early as Tuesday. As state Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton, told the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board, “We will get a baked pie. Then we decide

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