Members of the panel discussed SB 1262, sponsored by
Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, which would reduce the overall coverage of
the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, or Cat Fund, by $1
billion over three years. The maximum coverage in the state’s reinsurance fund
is $17 billion.
Hays and other lawmakers are concerned the Cat Fund won’t be able to pay out
claims in the event of a large hurricane. The fund has more than $8 billion
to pay claims but must borrow the rest. A study released in October showed the
fund with a potential $1.7 billion shortfall if a massive storm were to hit and
its coverage was maxed out, down from $3.2 billion the previous year.
“Thankfully we didn’t have a storm so it’s not as dangerously overexposed this
year, but it’s still a very weak undergirding and without a firm foundation no
industry will be able to stand and without proper financial backing the Cat Fund
will not be able to play the claims,” Hays said.
That approach is backed by reinsurance companies and larger private insurance
companies that can use more resources to pay for more expensive reinsurance in
the private market. Small domestic companies that would feel the effect of
higher reinsurance costs and pass them on to homeowners, however, are resisting
The smaller companies prefer a proposed strike-all amendment from Sen.
Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, that would lower the retention level, or
deductible, for the Cat Fund from $7.5 billion to $5 billion, and give the fund
the ability to bond for claims over three years instead of one.
“It’s complex, we have to wrap our arms around it, but we have to manage rates
and risk. This amendment does both,” Ring said.
Hays asserted his bill would have a minimal effect on rates, and pointed to
Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott, who cited studies showing a 1.2
percent annual rate increase resulting from higher reinsurance policies, but
added that a more competitive global reinsurance market is driving prices down
and could zero out the bill’s effect on rates.
Ring disputed that rates would not rise through Hays’ approach, and said that
former Sen. Locke Burt, president of Security First
Insurance, thinks his companies rates will rise 5 percent under Hays’
bill but decrease 8 percent under Ring’s amendment.No vote was taken on the bill.