Ron DeSantis ignored a real crisis in Florida because he is obsessed with owning the libs: columnist
Gov. Ron DeSantis (Photo via Saul Loeb for AFP)

From far-right Gov. Ron DeSantis to the GOP-controlled Florida State Legislature, Republicans in the Sunshine State have been aggressively fighting the culture wars, defending the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, railing against critical race theory and punishing Disney for not being on board with their agenda. Washington Post opinion writer Lisette Alvarez, in a biting column published on May 19, argues that Florida Republicans have been putting so much time and energy into owning the liberals that they neglected a very real problem: Florida’s “property insurance crisis.”

That crisis, Alvarez writes, is so “dire” that DeSantis has “ordered state lawmakers back into a special session” that is scheduled to start on Monday, May 23. In Florida, property owners are facing a combination of canceled policies and major rate hikes.

Republicans in the Florida State Legislature, Alvarez observes, “squandered weeks of the regular session trying to control what teachers and corporations can say and do instead of addressing a mess that alarms millions of Floridians: a meltdown in the home insurance market.”

“Let’s look at what Floridians face: skyrocketing property insurance premiums, up 25% from 2020 to 2021 on average, but in some cases tripling in one year, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit trade group that tracks industry trends,” Alvarez writes. “The average cost of homeowner’s insurance in Florida was $3600 in 2021, double the rate for the rest of the country. That’s if you can even get insurance.”

Alvarez continues, “In the past 12 months, more than 400,000 Florida home policies have been dropped, most of them in the past 90 days, according to the Institute. One insurance holding company, this week, announced 68,200 cancellations.”

Mark Friedlander, spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, has described Florida as the “most volatile property insurance market in the country,” warning that it is “headed for collapse.”

In Florida, Alvarez notes, private insurance companies are “reluctant to take new clients” — which is why “many homeowners have no choice but to enroll with Citizens, Florida’s state-run, nonprofit insurer.”

“Funded by premiums and taxpayers, Citizens was designed to be a last-ditch insurer, yet it is now the largest in Florida,” Alvarez explains. “The 420,000 policies it had in October 2019 have more than doubled. Soon, it will top 1 million, according to the insurance institute. If a large hurricane hits Florida, Citizens will quickly deplete its reserves — it had $166 million in underwriting losses last year — and taxpayers will have to make up the difference.”

Alvarez adds, “Plus, Citizens is limited: It only insures houses valued less than $700,000, or $1 million in Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys.”

Alvarez points out that because of its insurance crisis, Florida is becoming increasingly “inaccessible” for first-time homeowners.

“Those who do have private insurance often face new, arbitrary rules — such as requiring roofs to be younger than 15 years old — or risk being cut loose, even by Progressive and other large insurers,” Alvarez warns. “The spiraling costs of property insurance have made Florida, one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, even more inaccessible, especially for first-time and middle-class buyers.”