Could Florida’s new property insurance law lead to higher rates for Citizens policy holders?

On Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new property insurance reform bill - SB 76 - meant to give relief to a large portion of Florida’s insurance industry.

A statement posted on the Governor’s website said, “This bill protects Florida families by restructuring litigation rules for disputed insurance claims; expressly disallows contractors, public adjusters, and companies from using prohibited advertisements that encourage Floridians to make an insurance claim for roof damage; and imposes a fine of up to $10,000 when companies violate the law.”

A report in the Sun Sentinel said critics of the bill fear it will lead to larger rate increases for customers of state-backed Citizens Property Insurance. The bill backers disagree, saying that the bill will cut back on roof-damage claims.

“Unscrupulous actors in the business,” state Sen. Jin Boyd said, were driving up costs. “We’ve got significant penalties and responsibilities for them. ... And it will drive costs down.”

The bill allows annual rate increases for customers of Citizens, increasing the capped limit from 10% to 15%.

The bill prohibits contractors from soliciting homeowners to file insurance claims for roof damage claims and prevents public insurance adjusters from offering incentives to inspect for roof damage. SB 76 also limits attorney fees lawsuits against insurers.

The new law, which goes into effect July 1, reduces the claims filing time limit from three to two years.

Last year, Florida insurance regulators approved more than 50,000 Florida policyholders being dropped by three property insurance companies. According to the Sun Sentinel report, Citizens, the state’s insurer of last resort, has seen the number of policy holders grow to 589,041 as of April 30, up from 453,911 last year.

For the Governor’s statement, click here.

For the specifics of SB 76, click here.

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