Governor signs consumer protection legislation to support policyholders


Gov. Ron DeSantis signed three bills Wednesday, May 31, that strengthen Florida’s property insurance market, expand the state’s home hardening and hazard mitigation programs and further protect consumers against “bad actors,” according to a media release.

DeSantis also announced the approval of an additional $100 million in the 2023-24 General Appropriations Act for the My Safe Florida Home Program, which provides grants to homeowners for hurricane retrofitting, making homes safer and more resistant to hurricane damage and bringing the state’s combined investment to $250 million over the past year.

“The insurance legislation signed by Gov. DeSantis today increases accountability of insurers and transparency in the marketplace,” said state House Speaker Paul Renner. “It not only empowers homeowners but also cultivates market-driven competition, ultimately leading to lower costs. By establishing clear standards, fostering consumer trust and promoting fair practices, we can pave the way for a resilient and affordable insurance landscape that benefits homeowners and their communities.”

Renner represents District 19, which includes southwestern St. Johns County and all of Flagler County.

“A healthy insurance market results in a wide array of consumer choices, competition on price and coverage options and insurers that are financially strong and able to promptly pay the full value of claims,” said state Sen. Travis Hutson. “Unfortunately, due primarily to excessive litigation, Florida’s insurance market has grown increasingly unhealthy. Many property insurers have gone insolvent, left the state, or reduced their willingness to write new policies. Under the leadership of Gov. DeSantis, we have taken aggressive action to solve this problem, passing major property insurance legislation in 2021 and 2022, and then passing major legal reforms that affect most lines of insurance. The goal of all of this activity has not been to benefit the insurance industry but rather to benefit policyholders. However, we have no desire to go from a system that enriches trial lawyers, to a system that incentivizes insurance companies to use the law to avoid paying claims that should be paid. This legislation is a great step in the right direction for Florida homeowners.”

Hutson represents District 7, which includes all of St. Johns, Putnam and Flagler counties and parts of Volusia County.

“As we work to implement the legislation signed today, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation will continue to support both a competitive market and ensure that when a bad actor is identified, we utilize the full extent of our regulatory authority to ensure policyholders are protected,” said Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworsky.

One of the bills, Senate Bill 7052, enacts several consumer protection measures that further increase competition and accountability in Florida’s property insurance market by:

  • Clarifying that once a roof deductible is applied, no other deductible under the policy may be applied to any loss caused by the same covered peril.
  • Tolling the time period for an individual deployed to a combat zone or combat support posting to file a property insurance claim for the duration of the deployment.
  • Requiring property insurance mitigation discounts be updated at least every five years and requiring insurers to provide consumer-friendly information on their websites describing hurricane mitigation discounts available to policyholders.
  • Requiring liability insurers to follow proper claims handling practices on behalf of their policyholders and increasing penalties for insurers who don’t.
  • Prohibiting any altering or amending of an adjuster’s report without providing a detailed explanation for any reduction of the estimate of the loss.
  • Prohibiting officers and directors of impaired or insolvent insurers from receiving a bonus.
  • Increasing the maximum administrative fines that may be levied by the Office of Insurance Regulation on insurance companies by 250% generally, and 500% for violations stemming from a state of emergency such as a hurricane.

Another bill, HB 799, relates to property insurance. The bill expands mitigation discount programs for policyholders by:

  • Requiring a property insurer’s residential rate filing to allow for mitigation discounts, which reduce the potential for windstorm losses.
  • Requiring residential property insurers to provide reasonable discount, credit or appropriate reduction in deductibles for wind uplift prevention measures as a part of their rate filings.
  • Clarifying provisions included in Senate Bill 2A related to Citizen’s Property Insurance Corp. flood insurance coverage requirements.

The third bill, HB 881, expands eligibility for the My Safe Florida Home Program, ensuring that more Floridians can participate. The program was first included in Senate Bill 2D signed by the governor last year, and upgrades funded through the program can result in premium discounts for program participants.