TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida has the highest property insurance premiums in the country, but the state’s insurance commissioner says he does not support capping rate increases.
Over the last couple weeks, Commissioner Michael Yaworsky talked about the cost of insurance with lawmakers in Tallahassee.
8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi has some takeaways.
On average, Floridians pay $6,000 a year for property insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute. That’s three times more than the rest of the country.
8 On Your Side is working to confirm reports that some Floridians are now seeing six-figure premiums.
“We’ve all seen rate increases take place,” said Yaworsky, who is in charge of approving or denying premium hikes in the Sunshine State. “We’ve approved rate increases on ourselves.”
In Tallahassee, Yaworsky gave multiple updates on the state of Florida’s property insurance market.
“The reforms that the legislature did last year and this year are nothing short of historic and unprecedented,” he said. “We’re seeing pretty positive results again from the legislation that took place.”
The commissioner told lawmakers last year’s reforms are working and things are slowly improving, pointing to some positive data from the past year.
He said all insurers were able to secure reinsurance, insurance for insurance companies, and can continue to operate. They weren’t forced out of business.
Yaworsky said big, national carriers are expressing a renewed interest in Florida.
“One of my first missions was to go and meet with as many national carriers that I could,” Yaworsky added.
Additionally, five new, smaller companies just entered the market:
- Orange Insurance Exchange
- Orion180 Select Insurance Company
- Orion180 Insurance Company
- Mainsail Insurance Company
- Tailrow Insurance Company
“Obviously, to form these companies, capital had to be raised, business plans had to be developed, people had to be convinced this was a viable market to enter,” he said.
But lawmakers and reporters have repeatedly asked him the same question.
“What can you guys do now to get the rates lower?” one asked.
State Senator Victor M. Torres, Jr., a Democrat representing Orange County, also inquired about the cost of insurance during the Florida Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance meeting.
“Would your or the governor support putting some caps on homeowners insurance premium increases?” Torres asked.
“So when we talk about putting a cap on it, it would lead to a situation where a number of our domestic carriers would probably either leave or go insolvent, so it wouldn’t be a situation that would work long term,” said Yaworsky.
The commissioner stated clearly that he does not support capping increases; however, he did say that all rate hikes must go through him.
“We’re ensuring that the rates are not inadequate, excessive, or unfairly discriminatory,” he said, “And so the rate need that they are presenting, and the rate need that I am ultimately approving is the one that I believe is the adequate rate for what the need is based on the laws of Florida.”
We’ve seen other lawmakers say rates must go down soon or there will be hell to pay. The commissioner gave no timeline.
If you have a tip, comment or question for Mahsa, email her at MSaeidi@WFLA.com.