Florida Legislature Wraps Early with Insurance Fund, Roof and Condo Bills
By Wednesday morning, it was all over except for the speeches. The five-day special session on the insurance crisis turned into just three days, and without seeing adoption of a single significant modification to two bills that had been carefully crafted to help some property insurers with reinsurance costs and help everyone else with litigation and roof claims. Both chambers passed SB 2D and SB 4D with overwhelming support, a testament to the lock-step relationship between Florida’s governor and Senate and House leadership. The fact that the passage of the bills seemed a foregone conclusion early on in the session did not stop several lawmakers, though, from blasting colleagues for failing to do more to help homeowners who have seen soaring premiums in the last two years. “This is called corporate welfare, market manipulation, trickle-down economics,” said Rep. He was referring to the $2 billion Reinsurance to Assist Policyholders, or RAP fund, authorized by SB 2D.
A former deputy Florida insurance commissioner, Lisa Miller, now a lobbyist and consultant, said in a conference call Thursday that Grieco’s labels were offensive. Other lawmakers and industry representatives agreed the legislation didn’t go far enough to solve all of Florida’s insurance woes. “I give it a grade of C,” said Donald Brown, a former legislator who now is a registered lobbyist for the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, the Florida Insurance Council and Associated Industries of Florida. A second bill, SB 4D, ended up being two measures rolled into one. A second part of SB 4D is the condominium reform bill. The roof/condo bill, adopted almost 11 months to the day after the deadly condo collapse in Surfside, Florida, now requires high-rise condominiums to be inspected more often.
The condo section of the bill “makes the trip to Tallahassee worth it,” Grieco said on the House floor. Insurers will appreciate the bill, once it is signed into law, because it will provide needed information on the condition of buildings, supporters said. The both bills will take effect upon the governor’s signature. Several lawmakers and insurance representatives said the industry won’t have to wait long to know if the legislation has helped smooth the turbulent waters of the Florida market. Beyond the bills that were passed, the special session has put state regulators under the microscope. “I find the Office of Insurance Regulation to be incredibly flawed,” said Rep.
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