In Iraq, my team would always start our day with a pre-mission briefing to make sure everyone knew what our task was and how we were going to get it done. The costs of going off-mission could be costly – even deadly – so distraction was not an option.
Here in Florida, our leaders have lost sight of their mission. Now, Floridians are paying the price.
Over the last several years, Florida’s property insurance rates have skyrocketed. To make matters worse, many insurance companies have either shut down or left the state, giving homeowners fewer options.
Now, with hurricane season just a few weeks away, the situation has reached a boiling point, and lawmakers are scrambling to pass a legislative fix to prevent a total disaster.
Recently, Sunrise-based FedNat Insurance announced it will be canceling 68,000 policies across the state by the end of June, again leaving thousands of Floridan families in potential chaos without coverage. A financial storm surge of gigantic proportions if you will.
When it comes to figuring out how we got into this predicament, there’s a lot of finger-pointing going on. Insurance companies want to blame consumers, while consumers say the insurance companies’ mishandling of claims are to blame for this mess.
At some point, though, you must look at leadership.
We’re in this situation because instead of using annual legislative sessions to tackle real issues facing Floridians, Florida’s leaders have squandered much of their time and spent the rest of it doing favors for big businesses.
While Florida homeowners watched as their property insurance costs tripled and their policies got canceled, lawmakers focused on earning cheap political points and picking frivolous culture war fights.
When lawmakers did pass insurance legislation, it didn’t help consumers at all — instead, it was a gift to the insurance companies. The new law has significantly restricted Floridians’ access to courts, added additional mechanisms for insurers to deny and underpay claims, and created more hoops for Florida homeowners to jump through.
Worst of all, lawmakers shot down proposed amendments that would have protected policyholders by capping rate increases. Ironically, a recent poll of likely Florida voters conducted by McLaughlin and Associates found that voters overwhelmingly support reforms that lower rates, hold insurance companies accountable, and don’t limit consumer rights.
When given a list of potential proposals to address rising rates, nearly 89% favor requiring more financial transparency from insurance companies – by far the most popular proposal and one where voters of all stripes and parties are in strong agreement.
Our leaders got distracted from their mission, which is to make life better for their constituents. Now, Floridians are bearing the crushing costs of less protection, fewer rights, and no hope for lower rates.
The purpose of a special legislative session is to address an unforeseeable emergency. But our current situation was predictable, avoidable, and of our own making. Unfortunately, at least until November, we have no choice but to trust the same people who got us into this mess to get us out of it.
I’m not holding my breath. Instead, I think it’s time for Floridians to make it our mission to get some new leadership.
Adam Hattersley is a former Democratic state representative who is running for Chief Financial Officer for Florida.
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