If you own a home in Florida, you know that homeowners insurance premiums are skyrocketing, and it’s getting harder for some to even find homeowners insurance. In 2022 alone, six Florida homeowners companies became insolvent, leaving thousands of consumers scrambling for coverage. Many insurance companies are cancelling or non-renewing policies, as well as tightening underwriting requirements. Florida property insurance companies have recorded underwriting losses of more than 1 billion dollars for the past two years, and many are fleeing the state or raising premiums as much as they are allowed to by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.
And while hurricanes and other covered perils contributed to their losses, insurance experts note that lawsuits and assignment of benefits abuse have been the main reasons for underwriting losses.
In December 2022, Florida lawmakers met in a special session to address the crisis in the homeowners insurance market. They passed Senate Bill 2A (SB 2A) which was signed into law by the governor on Dec. 16.
SB 2A provisions
While there are still many issues to address, we hope this bill will help stabilize the homeowners insurance market in Florida, stop the steep rise in premiums, and keep homeowners insurance available to everyone. Here are a few of the main provisions of SB 2A:
- Creates a state-backed reinsurance fund to offer reinsurance (insurance for insurance companies) at lower rates to insurers struggling with the cost. Reinsurance prices have risen significantly, and experts expect them to continue to go up in 2023. https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/international/2022/11/23/696447.htm
- Eliminates one-way attorney fee provisions. In the past, property insurers were responsible for paying the attorney fees of policyholders who sue them over a claim and win. Now, each party will pay for their own attorney fees.
- Prohibits the assignment of benefits for both residential property and commercial property claims. Assignment of benefits is an agreement that gives a third party, such as a contractor, authority to do such things as file claims and collect insurance payments, without the involvement of the homeowner. Originally intended to streamline the claims process, assignment of benefits has become a vehicle for abuse and fraud.
- Attempts to return Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to the status of insurer of last resort by requiring policyholders to accept renewal or take-out offers from an authorized company that is within 20 percent of the policyholder’s Citizens insurance premium.
- Requires those with Citizens policies to purchase flood insurance.
The bill also contains provisions to encourage insurance companies to pay claims promptly, including requiring them to begin an investigation of a claim within seven days, and reducing the time for them to pay or deny a claim from 90 to 60 days.
Will homeowners insurance premiums come down?
The question everyone wants to know the answer to! Unfortunately, we won’t see the price of homeowners insurance come down right away, though it’s possible we might see decreases in a year to 18 months’ time. It will take time to see the results of the changes taking effect. State regulators and lawmakers say they will continue to monitor the situation and have requested data from the insurance companies about litigation and other factors which contribute to insurance company insolvencies.
Your partners at Lakewood Financial
The insurance professionals at Lakewood Financial are experts in navigating the Florida homeowners insurance market. If you receive a cancellation or non-renewal notice for your homeowners policy, or your renewal offer goes up drastically, we can help. Give us a call at 941-747-4600, (or click here to contact us online) and one of our agents will help you review your homeowners insurance options. Lakewood Financial is a locally owned, independent insurance agency. We’ve served Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton, Sarasota, and surrounding communities for more than 25 years.