Public Policy Update
Good afternoon everyone. The Legislative Special Session to address Florida’s property insurance crisis begins on Monday, and we stand poised to engage with lawmakers as they attempt to bring relief to policyholders around the state.
In preparation for next week, your public policy team has spent the past couple of months meeting with our members, government officials, lawmakers, insurance experts and other key stakeholders to discuss potential solutions to the ongoing crisis.
All indications are that lawmakers are planning to consider a package of reforms that will attack the problem from several different directions. Here is a short summary of the major points we believe they will consider, and that we plan to support. Of course, until we see the proposed legislation, this is all subject to change.
- Attorney Fees and Contingency Fee Multipliers – The policy change being considered would limit the ability of assignees (contractors) to collect one-way attorney fees. This measure, along with limiting contingency fee multipliers that can more than double the amount of attorney fees owed are meant to curb the frivolous property and casualty claims that are driving up rates. The rise in bad faith claims is also expected to be addressed by lawmakers.
- Roofing Solicitations and Deductibles – The roofing-related reforms we are anticipating would allow insurers to offer a separate roof deductible in exchange for lower premiums. They are also considering providing a warning notice to homeowners regarding roofing solicitations. These reforms are aimed at lowering premiums for policyholders’ and providing information to homeowners before they unknowingly enter into a lawsuit.
- Anti-Fraud Measures – Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has said that private insurance carriers in Florida have been crushed by frivolous litigation and fake claims, which have driven up rates, and pushed companies out of business or out of our state. He is asking lawmakers to fund the creation of additional anti-fraud squads working to prevent fraud in the property insurance industry in Miami, Jacksonville, and Ft. Lauderdale. There are currently two task forces along the I-4 corridor.
- Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund – Lawmakers are expected to consider changes that would allow small Florida insurers to purchase reinsurance (insurance for insurance companies) at a lower rate from the Florida Cat Fund, which in turn will lessen the premiums policyholders pay to these insurers.
- Assignment of Benefits (AOB) – Lawmakers will also be looking at AOB-related changes meant to close loopholes that remain from the previous AOB reforms that Florida Realtors® supported. These reforms would clean up definitions and clarify language to ensure AOB abuse cannot continue.
Please know that the state’s property insurance crisis is our top priority right now, and we plan to work closely with lawmakers to ensure the right solutions make it across the finish line next week. Look for my update next week for a full run-down of the results of this important special session.
Governor's Bill-Related Activity
So far, Governor DeSantis has signed 146 pieces of legislation passed during the 2022 legislative session into law. An additional 18 bills have been presented to the governor that await his signature. That leaves 111 bills passed during session that have not been sent to his desk for approval yet, including the $112 billion state budget.
Of particular note, the governor signed SB 518 this week which relates to private property rights. The bill amends current law provisions that prohibit local governments from requiring permits for the removal of “dangerous” trees on residential property. Clarifying the statutory language is aimed at reducing litigation brought by local governments against residential property owners.
Read more about what the governor signed into law this week here.
Florida Tourism Continues to Grow
Florida welcomed 36 million total visitors between January and March 2022 according to VISIT FLORIDA estimates. This is a 14 percent increase from Q4 2021, and the third consecutive quarter that overall visitation has surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Approximately 34.1 million domestic visitors traveled to Florida in Q1 2022.
Additional highlights from VISIT FLORIDA’s latest visitation estimates include:
- Florida welcomed 1.3 million overseas travelers in Q1 2022, an increase of nearly 169 percent from Q1 2021.
- Overseas visitation to Florida in Q1 2022 was 14 percentage points closer to full recovery than the rest of the United States.
- Canadian visitation to Florida during Q1 2022 accounted for 578,000 visitors, an increase of more than 955 percent from Q1 2021.
- Over 39 percent of visitors traveled to Florida by plane in Q1 2022, marking the highest share for air travel since the onset of the pandemic in 2020.
- Total enplanements in Florida were up over 70 percent in the first quarter of 2022.
- Quarterly hotel demand in Florida exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the first time in Q1 2022. Compared to the same period in 2021, the number of hotel rooms sold grew by 31.4 percent during the first three months of the year. Florida’s average daily rate (ADR) was up over 38 percent, and its occupancy rate increased by nearly 24 percent.
Congressional Redistricting Update
An appellate court lifted the automatic stay issued last week on Gov. DeSantis congressional map; effectively reinstating maps drawn by his office. A decision has not yet been made whether to reverse the Circuit Court decision last week to replace the map with a map drawn by Harvard Professor Stephen Ansolabehere before the midterms.
The order simply reinstates a stay that Judge Layne Smith vacated, meaning the appellate court has yet to rule on the decision itself, but that the DeSantis map remains officially in place.
New Florida Economic Numbers Announced
Governor Ron DeSantis announced today that Florida continues to outperform the nation in economic success. Due to Florida’s strong economy, the state has been able to make record investments in education, infrastructure, and other programs while increasing our State Reserves. Florida’s reserves will close out at more than $20 billion for this fiscal year and Florida’s revenues have exceeded pre-pandemic estimates by more than $8 billion. No money from the Federal Government is included in Florida’s record $20 billion reserves.
Florida employers have added jobs for 24 consecutive months and the state unemployment rate has remained below the national rate for 17 consecutive months. Florida’s April 2022 unemployment rate was 3.0 percent, down 0.2 percent from the previous month and lower than the national rate of 3.6 percent. In April 2022, Florida’s labor force grew by 3.0 percent (309,000) over the year. Florida’s private sector employment continues to show strong and steady growth, with a growth rate of 0.7 percent, more than double the national rate of 0.3 percent.
Jacksonville Attorney Cord Byrd Tapped as Secretary of State
Governor DeSantis recently announced the appointment of Representative Cord Byrd as Florida’s Secretary of State. According to the governor, Rep. Byrd, a Jacksonville attorney, has been a staunch advocate for election security, public integrity, the fight against big tech censorship and the de-platforming of political candidates. Representative Byrd has served in the Florida House of Representatives since 2016.
These, and many other topics can be found on Florida Realtors® website. Also, you can always reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have.