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Florida property insurance a topic during 2022 election season

Posted at 10:34 PM, Jul 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-29 22:34:06-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Days after Florida found out more than a dozen of its property insurance providers were in jeopardy of a rating downgrade, Democrats eyeing the state's top spot, have started upping the rhetoric, hitting the governor and offering their plans to mend the market.

"Our state is on the brink of a property insurance catastrophe," Florida Democratic governor candidate and U.S. congressman Charlie Crist said.

Even fellow Republicans have warned a crisis is at hand if more major reforms aren't made.

"End the litigation. Really, right now, it's just killing the insurance industry in Florida. It is the overwhelming amount of litigation," State Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) said.

Could this build into a fever pitch of political potential ahead of the election — impacting the governor's shot at a second term?

"Insurance is terribly confusing to people," Dr. Susan MacManus, professor emerita at the University of South Florida said.

MacManus thinks politicians will be hard-pressed to move the needle much with voters.

Insurance is a complicated topic, not usually among a person's election priorities — often more straightforward and tangible.

In fact, an early July USF/FIU poll of 600 Floridians found that 74% rated "pocketbook issues" likes "jobs, inflation, and the economy" as having the most impact on their vote.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has addressed the issue, saying newly enacted reforms are already helping.

The state-backed Citizens Property Insurance is also set to be a backstop for any downgraded and insolvent providers.

Plus, he and the new House Speaker are working ahead.

"Paul and I are going to do even more in the next legislative session," DeSantis said.

But MacManus thinks there is a chance property insurance could play a huge role in November.

A major storm might topple the already wobbly market and frustrate a lot of prospective voters.

"The focal point will be for a lot of homeowners — who are obviously higher turnout voters than non-homeowners — it will make it a very relevant issue," MacManus said.

Florida has been hurricane-free this year— but the season's peak months are about to begin; the election on November 8.