TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With only a few days left before lawmakers are called back to the state capitol to try and fix Florida’s property insurance market, legislators say they are waiting to see the exact language written in the bill they will discuss.
Some representatives and senators scheduled to speak at an annual insurance summit in Orlando on Wednesday are giving us a better idea about what needs to be done and what is likely to be accomplished.
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“We are on life support, and if we don’t do something, it will die,” said Rep. Bob Rommel, who represents District 81.
Rep. Rommel said every option is on the table for him and his colleagues to address.
“I can say that things are still being negotiated,” Rommel said. “I think we are going to draft a bill that is going to protect consumers, it’s going to stabilize the industry, and I believe it is going to attract more capital to the market.”
News 6 has looked at the problems at lengths for months. The range of reforms is now listed on a proclamation issued ahead of the special session. It includes topics like costly litigation, the availability of reinsurance, and the growing count of policies from state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.
“If there was a huge catastrophe, Citizens would be in the position of paying for all those claims, and what Citizens can’t pay everybody in the state of Florida will be given a bill,” said Senator Linda Stewart, District 13.
Senator Stewart spoke one-on-one with News 6 and said with four days to get the job done next week, most changes that are needed now will have to wait.
“My constituents want immediate relief on their premiums, and that won’t happen in special session,” Senator Stewart said. She continued, “We have to hold up the medium to small-sized companies, so they won’t go bankrupt and leave Florida. We need to keep the insurance companies here and we need to be able to bring in more, because competition is what helps our premiums.”
Senator Stewart tells News 6 that it will likely take at least a year for the legislature to catch up on all of the issues troubling the insurance market and make them right. She says the top priorities she would like to see addressed at the upcoming special session include one-way attorney’s fees, the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, giving out more money for reinsurance for companies, and the adjusters timetable.
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