Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, is responsible for rising insurance costs in Florida.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Hurricane Ian highlighted the state’s home insurance market’s vulnerability; six Florida property insurers went bankrupt in 2022.

In a campaign ad for the latter, rates under DeSantis are compared to those when Crist became governor 15 years ago. “He’s allowed home insurance prices to rise and raised $1 billion in taxes on Floridians,” Crist stated. “When I was governor, I cut insurance prices by 10%.”

PolitiFact classified Crist’s assertion about $1 billion or more in additional taxes as false. Mostly False because online shoppers were obliged to pay the state’s sales tax until DeSantis signed a new bill to collect it in 2017.

In this fact-check, we’ll look at Crist’s assertions about property insurance, which he’s previously mentioned.

Between 2007 through 2010, Crist was the governor of Florida. In his first act as governor, he signed legislation capping rate hikes at the Citizens Property Insurance Corp., operated by the state government, for one year. Because of this, the government-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. could successfully compete with private insurers.

The raw figures backed up his claim of a 10% decline in home insurance rates when Crist was governor. However, they don’t convey the whole story of Crist’s long-term influence on property insurance.

Why did insurance rates fall by 10% by 2010?

Between 2004 and 2005, eight storms hit Florida, forcing homeowners to pay higher insurance premiums. The insurance industry became a major worry ahead of the 2006 governor’s race.

Crist, a Republican at the time, ran on a promise to aid consumers and their wallets. Shortly after taking office, he convened a special session of the state legislature to discuss property insurance.

HB 1A was passed by lawmakers with bipartisan support and signed into law by Crist in January 2007. The legislation attempted, in part, to freeze Citizens’ rates and relax eligibility conditions.

Historically, Florida statutes compelled Citizens to establish premiums based on the state’s leading insurers to avoid competing in the private market. Citizens became a prominent competitor in the homeowners’ insurance market when HB 1A abolished that requirement.

Insurance premiums under Citizens and private insurers fell by almost 13% in 2008, from an annual average of $1,679 to $1,463. Crist’s 2022 campaign website blamed the drop on HB 1A. Analysts state that changes to insurance laws do not immediately impact market developments.

Typically, it takes between 18 and 24 months to observe the effects of insurance reform legislation in Florida, according to Mark Friedlander, a spokesperson for the neutral Insurance Information Institute.

As a result, the decline recorded in 2008 was most likely caused by modifications taken before Crist assumed office. However, Crist’s first and final full year in office was a 10% drop from 2007 to 2010.

According to a March 2010 analysis published by Risk Management Solutions, a private organization contracted by the state, improvements to Florida’s windstorm mitigation credits were responsible for most of the rate decreases after 2006.

Tax credits known as “windstorm mitigation credits” have been available to homeowners who strengthen their homes against natural disasters since 1993.

But some insurers would cover their costs by charging customers extra fees. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation didn’t stop insurers from doing this until 2006. According to the research, such adjustments resulted in a significant decrease in insurance prices.

Between 2008 and 2009, the average homeowners’ insurance rate fell by 3%. However, lower rates were only temporary. According to a Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology report, private insurers indicated they couldn’t compete with Citizens’ frozen rates.

Citizens increased their insurance by around 400,000 between 2004 and 2007, covering a total of 1.2 million properties in 2010.

There were no major hurricanes during Crist’s governorship, which was fortunate for Floridians and the insurance industry. Citizens would have been unable to fund claims if there had been, according to the Insurance Journal in 2014.

In 2009, Crist signed HB 1495, lifting the rate freeze and allowing Citizens to hike homeowners’ insurance premiums by up to 10%. This will be until Citizens’ pricing policies were proven to be actuarially sound or in line with those of private insurers.

DeSantis’s insurance rates

Property insurance prices in Florida are now among the highest in the country. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average homeowner’s insurance premium in Florida is $4,231.

“Nearly all of the reforms enacted in 2007 that insurers did not like have either been overturned or are not being enforced,” said Sam Ramirez, a Crist spokesperson.

Crist’s 2007 move “may still be evident today as Citizens rates remain below actuarially sufficient levels in many areas of the state,” according to a Florida State University risk management and insurance analysis.

According to experts, DeSantis did not cause Florida’s insurance market difficulties, but he has done little to solve the issue.

Crist, our current governor, claimed to have “cut insurance rates by 10%.”

Crist approved legislation in 2007 freezing prices for Citizens, the state-run insurer. Homeowners’ insurance prices initially declined, then climbed, resulting in a 10% decrease by the time Crist left office.

Experts hesitated to give Crist full credit for the reduction, citing modifications to Florida’s windstorm mitigation credits issued in 2006. It’s also worth noting that no major hurricanes hit Florida under Crist’s administration.

Crist’s measures appear to be somewhat responsible for the 10% drop. However, he likely overestimated the impact of his programs. We assess the claim as Mostly True after this explanation.

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