background

Since 2003 Monroe County has paid Citizens Property Insurance Corporation over $850 million in premiums over claims, consistently seeing the highest rates in the state.

In recent years, Citizens’ coverage limit has not kept up with the rising housing and construction costs, especially in The Keys, and many policyholders have been dropped from the Citizens rolls with little to no other option for windstorm insurance.

Then, during the December 2022 Special Session, the legislature enacted new rules requiring Citizens policyholders to purchase matching flood insurance, whether or not their property was elevated above base flood elevation or located in an X zone. FEMA’s new rating methodology Risk Rating 2.0 has removed the preferred risk status these policies once enjoyed, and a new flood policy can potentially add thousands of dollars to a property owner’s insurance bill.

2024 Legislative goals

In the summer of 2023, FIRM and its lobbyist began working with State Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez, State Representative Jim Mooney, and the Monroe County legislative team to draft property insurance legislation intended to provide relief to Monroe County residents.

The proposed legislation was meant to ease that burden by

  • Increasing the coverage limit in counties where there is not a reasonable degree of competition,
  • Returning the 10% rate increase cap in these counties,
  • Removing the flood insurance requirement on properties that are located above base flood elevation or located in an X zone, and
  • Requiring the flood insurance to only apply to dwelling coverage, not contents.

While the bills submitted by Sen. Rodriguez and Rep. Mooney were not passed as stand-alone bills, some language did make it into the final insurance bill.  HB 1503, the Citizens Property Insurance Bills, removed the matching contents coverage, so the flood insurance must only cover the dwelling. That bill has been signed by the Governor and will go into effect July 1, 2024.

2025 Legislative goals

FIRM will continue to work to increase the coverage cap, to return Monroe County to the 10% rate increase cap and remove the flood insurance requirement on certain properties.

Clarification of non-primary vs primary residence related to remaining under the glide path is necessary. Homesteaded properties and properties rented long-term (9 months) should remain on the glidepath to help protect critically needed affordable housing.

FIRM is also collaborating with agencies who provide affordable and workforce housing to work with Citizens on a special rate designation for those classifications.

What does FIRM do outside of Legislation?

FIRM pushed for a Monroe County representative on the Citizens Board of Governors, and Key West businessman Robert Spottswood, Sr. was named to the Board just before the beginning of the session.

Outside of legislation, FIRM had success in relationship building with legislators and policymakers outside of Monroe County. FIRM President Mel Montagne and representatives from the Village of Islamorada had an almost hour-long meeting with Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworsky during Florida Keys Day in Tallahassee.

Incoming House Speaker Danny Perez is from Miami-Dade–a county that shares many of our same concerns, and planning is underway to invite him for a site visit like the visits last year by representatives from Citizens and the Insurance Consumer Advocate. Additional guests may include Senate Majority Leader Ben Albritton and Commissioner Yawowrsky.

Summary of all 2024 Property insurance legislation

Here are some highlights of more property insurance legislation making its way to the Governor’s desk:

HB 7073 – Taxation

The bill provides policyholders a 1-year deduction on residential policies with effective dates between October 1, 2024, through September 30, 2024, equal to the amount of the Insurance Premium tax and State Fire Marshal assessment.

Policyholders of flood insurance will receive a deduction in their insurance premium tax for policies effective October 1, 2024, through September 30, 2024.

Don’t spend all those savings in one place.

SB7028 – My Safe Florida Home Program

In addition to some administrative changes, the big news here is that $200 million has been added to this popular grant program, and homeowners are free to choose their contractor so long as that contractor is licensed and verified by the Department of Financial services.

HB1029 – My Safe Florida Condominium Pilot

The bill provides to condominium associations (not individual owners) with condominium property within 15 miles of the coastline, a program similar to that of the My Safe Florida Home Program (MSFH) for owners of site-built, single-family, residential properties regarding requirements for participation, hurricane mitigation inspectors and inspections, eligibility for mitigation grants, contract management by the DFS, and required annual reports.

The My Safe Florida Home and My Safe Florida Condominium Pilot programs will be updated soon on the My Safe Florida Home website.

HB 1503 — Citizens Property Insurance Corporation

The bill allows surplus lines insurers meeting certain criteria and approved by the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) to submit take-out offers on personal lines residential risks insured by Citizens, or for which Citizens has received an application for coverage, if such risks are not primary residences or do not have a valid homestead exemption under ch. 193, F.S. A “primary residence” is defined as a dwelling that is the policyholder’s primary home or is a rental property that is the primary home of the tenant, and which the policyholder or tenant occupies for more than nine months of each year.

FIRM President Mel Montagne has shared his concerns with Insurance Commissioner Yaworsky and Insurance Consumer Advocate Tasha Carter about allowing so-called surplus lines to be accepted as take-out companies. He also questions this definition of a “primary residence.”  We will be watching this issue closely and will keep our members informed.

HB1611

Residential Property Insurance Ratemaking Regarding rate standards for residential property insurance, the bill provides that if an averaged model is used in ratemaking, the same averaged model must be used throughout this state. If a weighted average is used, the insurer must provide the OIR with an actuarial justification for using the weighted average which shows that the weighted average results in a rate that is reasonable, adequate, and fair.

Regarding coverage under the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens), the bill repeals provisions that allow Citizens to apply a different rate methodology to policies which, immediately prior to being insured by Citizens, were insured by an insurer determined by the OIR to be unsound or that was placed in receivership. Rates for such policies, if they cover a primary residence, will be subject to the Citizens rate “glidepath” which will restrict rate increases to 13 percent for 2024, rather than a prohibition on rate decreases and a limit of 50 percent on rate increases at issuance at renewal. If such policies do not cover a primary residence, the prohibition on rate decreases and the 50 percent limit on rate increases will apply.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This