Seeking Rents: Florida leaders are forcing thousands of homeowners to pay higher prices for property insurance

Nearly 18 months after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an industry-backed overhaul of Florida’s insurance laws, the bills are coming due for many Florida homeowners.

The letter started so cheerfully.

“Great news!” Citizens Property Insurance Corp. wrote last August to Scott Bassett, a homeowner in central Florida.

Bassett, who owns a 66-year-old, three-bedroom home in Orlando, was a customer of Citizens. He’d purchased a policy from Florida’s public property insurance company after the private insurer he had been buying his insurance from nearly tripled his premium in two years. But Citizens had found a new private company willing to cover Bassett’s home.

He had to flip to the second page to find the catch: The new policy — offered by a two-year-old company called Slide Insurance — would cost $3,501. That was more than $1,000 higher than his premium with Citizens. It would have been an increase of more than 40 percent. Bassett decided to stay with Citizens.

But eight months later, Bassett is being forced into Slide anyway. Not because the private insurer lowered its prices — but because Citizens, which is run by political appointees of Gov. Ron DeSantis and other elected Republican leaders in Tallahassee, raised its own prices so steeply that Bassett no longer had any choice.

The episode is the direct impact of controversial changes to Florida’s homeowner’s insurance market that DeSantis and the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature enacted in December 2022, just after DeSantis was re-elected governor in a campaign in which Republicans outspent Democrats by more than $100 million.

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