Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his political action committee received millions of dollars from insurance stakeholders as he oversaw massive insurance industry handouts, according to a new report. Meanwhile, Florida homeowners face rising insurance prices and are under increasing economic strain in one of the states hardest hit by climate change.
The governor’s committee and Friends Of Ron DeSantis PAC have raised $3.9 million from the insurance industry since their inception in 2018, according to a report released Wednesday by Hedge Clippers, a campaign organized by the Center for a Popular Democracy, “including more than $150,000 in one day from dozens of State Farm agents. The governor’s foundation fund was also supported by a combined $125,000 from two property-casualty insurers, People’s Trust Insurance and a subsidiary of Heritage Insurance.
“Not only has DeSantis failed to hold the insurance industry accountable,” the report said. “It’s critical that he fails to lower rates for Florida homeowners.” The American Federation of Teachers and Florida Rising, a grassroots voting and organizing group, also contributed to the report, titled “How Ron DeSantis Sold Out Florida Homeowners “.
The new analysis is based on a review of Florida Department of State campaign finance records, gathering donors to Ron DeSantis’ PAC who reported employment in the insurance industry from January 2018 through December 2022. The report also used the Insurance Regulation of the Florida Office of Insurance Appraisal rate hikes since DeSantis took office.
The Intercept’s review of campaign finance records reveals that the following insurance providers made five-figure contributions to the PAC during that time period: National General Management Corp., Allstate, Progressive and American Integrity Insurance.
Under DeSantis’ watch, home insurance premiums have risen from $1,988 to $4,231 on average, putting Floridians under financial pressure to pay for insurance that is nearly three times the national average. And this year, home insurance premiums are expected to increase another 40 percent, an issue former President Donald Trump has hammered DeSantis on as the governor weighs a challenge to Trump in the GOP presidential primary.
“Ron DeSanctimonious Delivers Biggest BAIL to Globalist Insurance Companies, IN HISTORY,” Trump wrote on his social media platform Truth Social in March.
These increases come as DeSantis has stamped policies accelerating insurance company profits at a direct cost to Florida homeowners and taxpayers in general.
During a special legislative session in May 2022, lawmakers approved a $2 billion reinsurance fund, which is insurance for insurance providers that is typically purchased on the open market. The taxpayer-funded reserve was justified as a way to protect insurers from bankruptcy in the event of a cataclysmic event, while reducing insurance costs for consumers. Despite these promises, insurance premiums remain extremely high, with rate increases outpacing the savings generated by the fund.
“The $2 billion handout program that used taxpayer funds to subsidize industrial risks was called ‘Policyholder Relief Reinsurance,’ but there is little evidence that it lived up to its name,” the report said. “Costs for policyholders have risen since the adoption of the taxpayer-funded subsidy.”
Seven months after creating the reinsurance fund, DeSantis signed another piece of legislation that similarly passed through a special session to limit the ability of parties to collect legal fees from insurance providers who refuse to pay claims. The new law protects insurance companies from massive liability for blocking insurance claims while disincentivizing homeowners from making claims in the first place.
“The problems in Florida’s property insurance market didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved overnight,” DeSantis said at the bill’s signing in December. “The historic reforms signed today create an environment that moves Florida toward best practices across the country, adding much-needed stability to Florida’s marketplace, promoting competition and increasing consumer choice.” I am grateful that the Legislature answered the call for meaningful reform.
The report notes that DeSantis might have taken a different path: “When insurers threatened to pull out of the state and raise rates en masse after Hurricane Andrew, then-Governor Lawton Chiles came up with a solution that included freezing rate increases,” the authors note. Meanwhile, states like Louisiana, Alabama and California have formulated their own effective plans to keep insurance costs low through a combination of insurance provider-funded subsidies and insurance premium discounts for homeowners who improve the resilience of their climate-affected homes. areas.
For some Floridians, the exorbitant cost of insurance means choosing to live without coverage and the risk of potential damage from a storm or natural disaster. Tracy Brown, community relations specialist for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, was forced to cancel her home insurance after premium payments jumped to $1,800 a month in April 2021. “Our governor needs to know that the cost of The life we had three years ago is not what we have now. Brown told The Intercept. “For a middle-class person to live effectively, the cost of living has to be lower to live a life, not just living paycheck to paycheck.” At Easter that year, Brown lost his home to a fire.