Florida Local News, Politics, Sports & Business

Florida knew the insurance coverage disaster was coming. Lawmakers waged tradition wars as a substitute. | Commentary [Orlando Sentinel] – Insurance coverage Information Internet

Due to Hurricane Ian, Florida is about to expertise an insurance coverage disaster that would ship your already-high charges even increased, restrict your insurer selections much more and value taxpayers billions.

There’s nothing mankind might do to cease Ian. However there was loads Florida politicians might’ve executed to assist put together its insurance coverage market.

In reality, this disaster was completely predicted. Watchdogs urged Gov. Ron DeSantis and state legislators to take motion. However the politicians had been extra fascinated by screaming about essential race principle and demonizing LGBTQ households.

You recognize this. Take into consideration what number of tales you examine GOP lawmakers making an attempt to go “anti-woke” laws vs. what number of tales you examine them making an attempt to stabilize the insurance coverage market. Effectively, now you’re about to pay the value.

That is what occurs once you elect individuals extra fascinated by politicking than governing.

Consultants are predicting the whole lot from rising insurance coverage prices — in a state the place charges are already greater than double the nationwide common — to huge payments for taxpayers. The Sentinel detailed the anticipated fallout in a current piece: “Hurricane Ian: Injury will drive insurance coverage charges even increased, cripple business.”

The default protection by the politicians who let these issues fester appears to be: Now isn’t the time for Monday-morning quarterbacking.

However that’s not what that is. These alarms weren’t set off the Monday after the sport. They had been sounded months in the past. Years in the past.

The nationwide Insurance coverage Journal penned a collection again in 2020 entitled: “Florida Property Insurance coverage Market Inches Nearer to Disaster.” Bloomberg wrote a bit the identical yr: “Florida Braces for a Storm of Owners Insurance coverage Fee Hikes.” By then, corporations had additionally began fleeing Florida, and the state-run Residents’ program was bloating.

However lawmakers did subsequent to nothing … and at the moment are appearing shocked.

State Sen. Jeff Brandes was one of many few Republicans who pleaded along with his colleagues to do extra. They didn’t.

So both they lacked the competence and braveness to repair the issue. Or they merely didn’t care about the issue — a minimum of as a lot as they cared about culture-warring. Neither choice instills confidence.

Insurance coverage reform is an admittedly complicated drawback. Florida is flat, surrounded by water and a frequent goal for hurricanes.

Many politicians blame rampant insurance coverage fraud for jacking up charges and driving insurers away. So then so crack down on fraud!

If Florida had a rash of burglaries, you’d goal the burglars, proper?

Effectively, then if insurance coverage fraud can be a statewide drawback, why hasn’t Florida created a statewide pressure with 10 instances the present variety of investigators and prosecutors already assigned to the trigger?

As an alternative, DeSantis created a voting-fraud pressure … regardless of an absence of proof of issues in that area. That was a selection.

DeSantis and legislators additionally made a selection once they ignored scores of insurance coverage warnings throughout their legislative session final yr so they may as a substitute froth about Disney and different supposedly “woke” companies.

Solely later, in a a lot shorter particular session on insurance coverage, did they pay token consideration to the apparent disaster. Then, they took some meaningful-but-small steps, together with including $2 billion in reinsurance reduction. (To place that quantity in perspective, estimators are taking a look at tens of billions in harm and claims.)

There was rather more that would’ve been executed. Other than significantly cracking down on fraud, consultants have pushed for arbitration between owners and insurers earlier than lawsuits are filed. Lawmakers might’ve supported Brandes’ plan to scale back the typical home-owner’s invoice by $150 a yr by restructuring the state’s reinsurance-fund deductible. They may’ve cracked down on the inventive accounting measures some insurers use to siphon income out of Florida to make their monetary well being look worse right here.

However all these issues would’ve taken guts and vitality. It was simpler to kick the can down the highway — a well-liked tactic for a state whose unofficial motto has all the time been: Construct now, cope with penalties later.

Flooding is one other instance. The potential for devastating flooding has lengthy been identified. However owners aren’t required to have flood insurance coverage. Nor are primary home-owner’s insurance policies required to cowl flood harm.

So is it stunning that now, within the hardest-hit counties of Collier and Lee, solely about 30% of properties have flood insurance coverage by way of the Nationwide Flood Insurance coverage Program, in accordance with the Tampa Bay Instances?

Meaning most householders are out of luck — or taxpayers will bail them out. (We’ll quickly see if the politicians like DeSantis — who stated individuals who determined to take out school loans shouldn’t get taxpayer bailouts — really feel the identical manner about Florida owners who determined to not purchase flood insurance coverage.)

The underside line: Everybody knew these messes had been coming. The politicians in cost had been negligent. And also you’re going to pay the value.

The query now could be: What are you going to do about it?

What would you do in every other a part of your life? In case your monetary advisor, for example, ignored one warning after one other to safeguard your portfolio after which misplaced the majority of your retirement account, would you merely shrug?

And what if he had the audacity to let you know that Now isn’t the time for Monday-morning quarterbacking — regardless that you’d warned him repeatedly to safeguard your investments?

Solely a idiot would preserve that advisor round.

Effectively, politics and partisanship typically do silly issues to individuals’s brains. However any clear-thinking particular person is aware of the time for excuses on Florida’s insurance coverage disaster isn’t simply over; it ended way back.

[email protected]

©2022 Orlando Sentinel. Go to orlandosentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content material Company, LLC.

Comments are closed.