In recent days, Democrats and their allies in the media have gone out of their way to stir up fear of trouble in the insurance market by pointing solely to Farmers Insurance’s decision to leave the state. They deliberately and deliberately omit some fairly important facts.
Six months ago, Farmers Insurance announced that it would not write new policies or expand its operations in the state. First, it was based on market conditions prior to the actions of the Legislative Assembly last year – the actions of insurance experts agree that they will improve market conditions. In other words, the farmers’ departure was not based on Republican legislative action. Second, Farmers is actively engaged in reconfiguring its risk profile nationwide, not just in Florida. Third, and blatantly ignored by the Democrats and their allies in the media, the farmer-affiliated insurance companies that are part of the Farmers Insurance Group not only do not refuse policies, but actually expect them to accept some of those policies from which other branches refuse.
Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast
The real truth is that the Florida Legislature has taken bold action during recent legislative sessions to stabilize the Florida insurance market. There are significant signs that the market is improving, including State Farm’s recent announcement that they have recommitted themselves to responsible growth in the Florida market. According to the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR), new companies are interested in entering the Florida market because our legislative reforms have made Florida a viable insurance market again. Private companies are also showing record interest in adopting policies from taxpayer-backed citizens, reducing the risk of future taxpayer taxation. In addition, reinsurance, which fuels the great opportunity of Florida’s insurance companies, is readily available at better prices than expected.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Insurance Commissioner Michael Jaworski are hard at work implementing recent legislative reforms. They also work closely with farmers to ensure that no Florida resident is left in the lurch when this branch leaves.
Meanwhile, Democrats “quickly pointed the finger straight at the Republican Party,” according to the Miami Herald. For what? To take difficult but necessary steps to save our insurance market? In their press room, the Democrats do not admit that they voted for much of the recent legislation regarding property insurance reform. Even worse, I believe that none of their essential ideas will actually work. These ideas include mandatory caps on insurance premiums. After losing billions in Florida, will insurers accept fixed premiums below what is needed to pay their clients’ future claims? No, most likely there will be a mass exodus of carriers and a complete collapse of the private market. This will force all of us to adopt a public policy for citizens, and every taxpayer will be on the hook in the event of the next hurricane, even if it happens hundreds of miles from their homes. Likewise, Democrats for state-subsidized premiums will take money out of the pockets of all hard-working Floridians, including renters, to subsidize those of us with homeowner policies, which is truly a regressive position.
Instead, the Republican leadership is improving the insurance market by eliminating unfounded lawsuits and holding insurance companies accountable. This strategy will promote affordable fares for Florida residents and provide strong consumer protection. We have strengthened OIR’s regulatory oversight to hold insurance companies accountable, ensure fair and timely payment of claims, and encourage competition. And we’re focused on depopulating the Citizens’ Property Insurance Corporation, the government’s insurer of last resort, and turning these policies over to private carriers so that taxpayers don’t get hooked on these policies. The bottom line is that we have carried out well-balanced reforms that will improve the market.
Despite what Democrats and the media would like you to believe, the insurance market is improving and the relief we fought for is coming. We will continue to offer real solutions and boldly move forward so that every Florida resident can access affordable insurance now and in the future.
Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) was first elected to office in 2015 and is currently Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives for the 2023 and 2024 legislative sessions.