TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A new property insurance company could be coming to Florida as soon as January 2024.
One of the founders is State Sen. Joe Gruters, a Republican from the Tampa Bay area.
That’s raising some questions.
8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi is taking a closer look at the company’s plans.
Florida’s property insurance market is troubled.
Last year, lawmakers claimed frivolous lawsuits were the problem.
In December, they passed Senate Bill 2A, eliminating one-way attorney fees.
Critics have said that the law was friendly to insurers.
Essentially, it made it more difficult to sue them.
In a town hall last month, one lawmaker, State Sen. Jason Pizzo, a Democrat from Miami, outlined what happened next.
“As soon as we were done with the last vote in session, I had a couple of people race to me including legislators, asking if I wanted to invest in an insurance company” he said to Florida’s Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworsky.
It appears that he’s talking about Sen. Gruters.
Gruters has voted in favor of all of the recent insurer-friendly reforms, including S.B. 2A.
Now, 8 On Your Side has confirmed that shortly after that, Sen. Gruters decided to help create a new insurance company: Village Protection Insurance.
The presentation to investors “strictly confidential”.
The senator is listed as a “Principal Founder” under the Board of Directors.
Why invest with this company?
The presentation cites a “reformed marketplace”… and “exceptional returns.”
“We are ready to execute strategies that could generate even higher returns… with the litigious environment in Florida severely eroded..”
Tara Newsom teaches ethics at St. Petersburg College.
“Perception in politics is everything,” she said. “The code of ethics in the state of Florida compel any legislator who may knowingly benefit from legislation to recuse themselves.”
She explained the current code that lawmakers must abide by.
“Did Senator Gruter know that in the future he was going to try to pull together a home insurance company, in which he would make a 165% return, that would really be a red flag,” she said.
“Even if he could monetize this, should he? Shouldn’t he enrich the lives of all Floridians rather than just enriching his own and his colleagues in the Florida Senate.”
8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi spoke with Sen. Gruters on the phone.
He said this is only a concept, and when it comes to fruition, he will do an interview.
Sen. Gruters says he’s trying to solve a problem and doesn’t see any conflicts or issues.
He says it’s important to raise capital and increase competition to drive down prices for every day homeowners.
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