Florida Governor Ron DeSantis He and his political action committee received millions of dollars from insurance stakeholders as he oversaw the insurance industry’s massive giveaway, according to a new report. Meanwhile, Florida homeowners are facing rising insurance rates and mounting economic pressures in one of the states hardest hit by climate change.

The Governor’s Committee and Friends of Ron DeSantis Buck have raised $3.9 million from the insurance industry since its formation in 2018, according to a report released Wednesday by Hedge Clippers, a campaign organized by the Center for Popular Democracy, “including more than $150,000 in one day from dozens of State Farm Agents”. The governor’s inaugural fund was also backed by a total of $125,000 from two property accident insurance companies, People Trust Insurance and a subsidiary of Heritage Insurance.

“DeSantis not only fails to hold the insurance industry accountable,” the report reads. “Critically, it failed to lower homeowner rates in Florida.” The American Federation of Educators and Florida Rising, a grassroots voting rights organizing group, also contributed to the report, How Ron DeSantis Sold Florida Homeowners.

The new analysis is based on a review of Florida State Department campaign finance records, compiling donors to DeSantis’ PAC who reported employment in the insurance industry from January 2018 to December 2022. The report also used the Florida Bureau of Insurance Regulation to assess the insurance rate since DeSantis took office.

An Intercept review of campaign finance records reveals that the following insurance providers made five-figure contributions to the PAC during that time period: National General Management Corp. Allstate, Progressive, and American Integrity Insurance.

Under DeSantis’ watch, home insurance premiums have increased from $1,988 to an average of $4,231, putting Floridians under financial pressure to pay insurance costs that are nearly three times the national average. And this year, home insurance premiums are expected to increase another 40 percent, an issue that former President Donald Trump brought up on DeSantis as the governor considered challenging Trump in the GOP presidential primary.

“Ron DeSanctimonious introduces LARGEST INSURANCE BAILOUT to Globalist Insurance Companies, IN HISTORY,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social social media platform in March.

The increases come as DeSantis has rubber-stamped policies that accelerate insurance companies’ profits at a direct cost to Florida homeowners and taxpayers at large.

During a special legislative session in May 2022, lawmakers approved a $2 billion reinsurance fund, which is insurance for insurance providers normally bought on the open market. The taxpayer-funded reserve was justified as a way to protect insurance companies from bankruptcy in the event of a catastrophic event while lowering insurance costs for consumers at the same time. Despite these promises, premiums remained excessively high, as price increases outpaced savings from the fund.

The $2 billion endowment program, which used taxpayer money to subsidize industry risks, was called Reinsurance to Help Policyholders, but there is little evidence that it lived up to its name. The report states. “Costs for policyholders rose after the passage of taxpayer-funded support.”

Seven months after creating the reinsurance fund, DeSantis signed into law another piece of legislation that was similarly accelerated during a special session to enact the ability of litigants to collect legal fees from insurance providers who refuse to pay claims. The new law protects insurance companies from serious liability for preventing insurance claims, while at the same time discouraging homeowners from pursuing claims in the first place.

“Issues in Florida’s property insurance market did not happen overnight, and they will not be resolved overnight,” DeSantis said when signing the bill in December. “Historic reforms signed today create an environment that realigns Florida for best practices across the country, adding much-needed stability to the Florida marketplace, enhancing competition, and increasing consumer choice. I am grateful that the Legislature has answered the call for meaningful reform.”

The report notes that DeSantis could have taken another course: “When insurers threatened to pull out of the state and raise interest rates dramatically in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, then-governor Lawton Chiles devised a solution that included a rate increase freeze,” the authors note. Meanwhile, states like Louisiana, Alabama and California have created their own effective plans to keep insurance costs down through a combination of provider-funded grants and premium discounts for homeowners who improve the resilience of their homes in climate-affected regions.

For some Floridians, the prohibitive cost of insurance means choosing to live without coverage and risk potential damage from a storm or natural disaster. Tracy Brown, a community liaison with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, was forced to stop insuring her home after premiums jumped to $1,800 a month in April 2021. “Our governor needs to know that the cost of living we had three years ago is not what we have now.” . Brown told The Intercept. “For a middle-class person to live effectively, the cost of living has to be lower to live a life and not just a living paycheck to paycheck.” On Easter Sunday this year, Brown lost her home in a fire.

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