Episode 48 – 2024 Legislative Roundup

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How will the insurance bills that passed in the recently completed 2024 Florida legislative session compliment past marketplace reforms?   Is a property insurance market marred by carrier insolvencies in recent years and ongoing double-digit rate increases starting to stabilize?

Former Florida Deputy Insurance Commissioner Lisa Miller talks with two legislators about the new laws expected to impact Florida’s property insurance and real estate markets, reinsurance prices, condominium affordability, and their joint belief in bipartisanship for finding workable policy solutions.

Florida State Representative Tom Fabricio (R-Miami Lakes)

Florida State Senator Nick DiCeglie (R-St. Petersburg)

Show Notes

Florida State Representative Tom Fabricio (R-Miami Lakes) sits on the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee and Chairs the House Ethics, Elections & Open Government Subcommittee.  He is a former insurance defense attorney whose practice now focuses on commercial and real estate litigation, including real estate transactions. 

Florida State Senator Nick DiCeglie (R-St. Petersburg) is Vice Chair of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, and a former Chair of the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee.  He is President and CEO of Hope Villages of America, a Tampa Bay area nonprofit organization addressing hunger, homelessness, and domestic violence.

Both lawmakers discussed their motivation for entering the Florida Legislature and their vision for Florida’s homeowners insurance marketplace and by extension, the state economy.  Topics included the admitted insurance market (those companies whose rates and policy forms are approved by state regulators) and the surplus lines companies (those whose rates and forms are largely unregulated, and who often insure risks admitted companies don’t), along with reinsurance companies, who provide catastrophe insurance for insurance companies.  Among the bills and issues discussed on the podcast with host Lisa Miller:

  • HB 1503 authorizes surplus lines insurance companies to take out policies (“takeouts”) from the legislatively-created and state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corporation’s non-homesteaded residential properties, such as second homes, among other risks.  “I think surplus lines are important (for) it allows other free market competition,” said Rep. Fabricio.  “Because ultimately, with Citizens having a population of over 1.2 million to close to 1.3 million policies, we need to depopulate Citizens.  We need to bring Citizens down to a number under a million policies, where Citizens will be truly our carrier of last resort,” he said.
  • HB 1029 applies the popular My Safe Florida Home homeowners program to condominium complexes and individual condo unit owners in an initial pilot program.  The program offers a $2 to $1 match to incentivize homeowners to harden their homes from future hurricanes.  “Anytime that we can mitigate losses in the state, it’s going to go a long way in contributing to that healthy insurance market,” said Sen. DiCeglie, who sponsored the Senate companion bill.  “In my district alone, we have thousands of condominium associations and those folks are looking for relief as well.  Recent condominium reforms requiring them to put more money in reserves, so that they’re making the necessary repairs and upkeep of the condominiums (together with) the same increases in insurance, they’re getting hit on both sides,” he said.
  • Reinsurance, with rate increases of 20% to 40% over each of the past three years onto insurance companies that in turn, pass the cost along in premiums to homeowners, “has been difficult for us to specifically address from the Florida Legislature’s perspective,” said Rep. Fabricio.  “Part of the reason is that we don’t want to tinker with the market too much.   We’ve been seeing some very positive effects of our past legislative reforms…and I think and am hopeful that the reinsurance carriers see that there was benefit for them, helping us fill our reinsurance towers in the last hurricane cycle.  Coming forward this year, we’re hoping that their appetite, their pricing will be commensurate with the reduced risk that we’ve brought into Florida by balancing the markets,” he said.
  • HB 1021 overhauls current statutes to impose criminal penalties for violations and fraud on condominium boards, other community and homeowner associations, and their elections.  The bill outlines new education requirements for condo managers, requires building records to be available online, and clarifies obligations surrounding hurricane protection.  It follows the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium high-rise, a tragedy which claimed the lives of 98 condo residents in Surfside, Florida in June of 2021, which since has highlighted the shortcomings in state law, infrastructure, and governance.  Host Miller noted the current trend of condo sell-offs, as unit owners have been pushed to lower their selling price as insurance and homeowner association fees have increased. 

    “There’s no sense in sugarcoating this,” replied Sen. DiCeglie.  “Many of these folks are retirees, they’re on fixed incomes, and they’re having a really, really difficult time making these assessments that they’re getting.  It’s translating into higher monthly costs for them and they are very concerned whether or not they can they can afford to live in these condominiums.  So anytime you hear that we’re in that situation, certainly the banks and rightfully so, should be concerned about potential foreclosures and things like that.  It’s really that perfect storm,” said Sen. DiCeglie.

Host Miller also asked Representative Fabricio and Senator DiCeglie about a topic that she knows from years observing them in the legislature is one that both are passionate about: the ability to work across the aisle, with Democrats, in a true bipartisan way.

“I would say that approximately 90% of the legislation that’s passed in the House and I suspect in the Senate as well, is bipartisan for the most part,” said Rep. Fabricio.  “While there are disagreements within those 90%, they’re not always necessarily partisan disagreements.  They’re just disagreements over policy, as we should have in the legislature.  We’re working together to figure out what’s the best policy for Florida,” he said of the 120-member body.

Senator DiCeglie agreed with the 90% figure.  “It’s about relationships.  In the Senate, we’re 40 members and so we spend a lot of time together, in committee and on the floor,” said Sen. DiCeglie, noting both Republicans and Democrats build relationships with one another, sharing stories about family and their professional lives.  “I go out of my way to make sure with the legislation I’m working on, that I get it right.  I want to know what those potential unintended consequences are and the only way to do that is to get the feedback not only from Republicans, but you have to get that from Democrats as well.  We’re all duly elected, we all represent the same number of people.  I think that’s really what makes this legislature work so well, is that we have these relationships.  We work behind the scenes with each other,” he said.

Both legislators said property insurance rates will be the number one issue in state elections this fall.

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Florida Legislature Bill Watch – final 2024 edition (Lisa Miller & Associates)

HB 1503 “Citizens Property Insurance Corporation”

HB 1029 “My Safe Florida Condominium Pilot Program”

The Path to Homeowners Rate Relief Now (Lisa’s Blog, January 1, 2024)

HB 1021 “Community Associations”

Closing 2024 Budget Discussion in the Florida House of Representatives (The Florida Channel, March 8, 2024)

LMA Newsletter of March 11, 2024 (Lisa Miller & Associates)

Subscribe to the LMA Newsletter (free)

** The Listener Call-In Line for your recorded questions and comments to air in future episodes is 850-388-8002 or you may send email to [email protected] **

The Florida Insurance Roundup from Lisa Miller & Associates, brings you the latest developments in Property & Casualty, Healthcare, Workers’ Compensation, and Surplus Lines insurance from around the Sunshine State.  Based in the state capital of Tallahassee, Lisa Miller & Associates provides its clients with focused, intelligent, and cost conscious solutions to their business development, government consulting, and public relations needs.  On the web at www.LisaMillerAssociates.com or call 850-222-1041.  Your questions, comments, and suggestions are welcome!  Date of Recording 3/11/2024. Email via [email protected]   Composer: www.TeleDirections.com  © Copyright 2017-2024 Lisa Miller & Associates, All Rights Reserved