Lawmakers in Florida have said that major property insurance legislation is not expected to be a feature of the state’s 2024 legislative session that begins in January, with time still needed to allow the already enacted changes to filter through and show up in insurer results.
At a hearing of the Florida Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on Monday, lawmakers heard from the Florida state insurance commissioner and the CEO of Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, for an update on the state of the market.
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) continues to roll-out reforms to property insurance rules decided on in last year’s special session and regular sessions of the legislature, but State Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworsky did not provide any examples of additional laws that could be passed.
Florida’s Senate Banking and Insurance Committee Chairman Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton commented, “In my opinion, we swung for the fences, and we got a lot done,” referring to the 2023 legislative changes that got passed.
But, looking ahead, he said that he does not foresee “any additional big-deal things that we can do” during the 2024 session that begins in January.
The Committee also discussed the need to allow the enacted legislative changes to bed-in, with some expected to take 12 to 18 months to have a meaningful effect on the market.
Reinsurance costs are a significant factor in the Florida insurance market and as we reported this morning, one of the leading catastrophe modelling firms does not believe they will come down much, if at all.
Insurance Commissioner Yaworsky commented to reporters that he was pleased to see that reinsurance rates did not increase as much as anticipated at the renewals this year, which he implied could be in response to the legislative changes enacted.
Yaworsky also said that the interest being seen in takeouts of policies from Florida Citizens is another positive sign, which echoes one of our articles from the summer.
Florida Citizens President and CEO Tim Cerio explained that the interest being seen in depopulating has risen, while Yaworsky said this could be up roughly 800% in the last year.
Cerio said that Florida Citizens may now end 2023 with nearer 1.3 million policies in-force, thanks to takeouts and the depopulation program, down on the 1.5 million to 1.7 million policies it had previously forecast.
As of October 6th, the figure stood at over 1.412 million policies.
The cost of property insurance remains a key factor for the state though, with the Committee meeting in Florida hearing about the lack of options for coverage available, the high costs of those and the fact the insurance market lacks competition for many consumers policies.
Some senators would like to see rate increases capped, but others are cognisant that this would likely see more policies being driven to Citizens, with the insurer of last resort ballooning again as a result.
The one factor going in Florida’s favour, may be the fact hurricane season is drawing nearer to its close without a major storm loss in the state this year.
Which could reduce some pressure on the state’s insurance companies, but as we have also recently reported, property exposure is growing quickly in Florida and its insurers are also being hit by rising losses from secondary perils, such as convective storms and floods.
So the pressure on Florida’s property insurance market may not let up so much and unless the market does start to see tangible benefits flowing through from the enacted legislative changes, which could make for another costly reinsurance renewal in June 2024, there is every chance more legislative action could be on the table by 2025.
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