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Gallagher Commends Legislative Leaders for Setting Aside Hundreds of Millions for Insurance Rate Relief

4/17/2006

Contact:
FLDFS Press Office
(850) 413-2842
 
House leaders recommend $920 million in rate relief, Senate leaders propose $750 million

            TALLAHASSEE – Tom Gallagher, Florida's chief financial officer, said homeowners scored a victory today when appropriations committees in both the House and Senate recommended setting aside hundreds of millions of dollars to provide insurance rate relief to Florida homeowners. 
 
               "This is a big win for Florida's homeowners.  Returning surplus revenue to Florida's families is sound fiscal policy and common-sense tax relief, and I commend our state legislators for taking this first step," Gallagher said. "There is still much work to be done, and I'm going to do my part to ensure additional reforms are also approved."
 
Since 2004, Gallagher has been calling on the Legislature to use surplus tax revenues to offset any assessments by Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, rather than taxing Floridians twice for the damages incurred by multiple hurricanes.  When the Legislature created Citizens, the state's insurer of last resort, it mandated that any shortfalls in revenue be recovered through assessments on homeowners.
 
Last Thursday, the Florida General Revenue Estimating Conference announced that Florida will now receive another $960 million in unanticipated revenue over the $3.2 billion increase in revenue Florida is projected to see this year and the next. 
 
Following revenue projections, House leaders today recommended that $920 million be set aside to offset the burden of Citizens' assessments on Floridians, with an additional $500 million earmarked for grants and no-interest loans to help Floridians strengthen their homes against hurricanes.  Senate leaders are proposing $750 million be dedicated to offset insurance assessments, with another $50 million allocated for mitigation.
 
               "Citizens was not designed to handle 800,000 policies," Gallagher said. "Helping Floridians strengthen their homes against catastrophes, moving people out of Citizens or keeping them from ending up in the insurer of last resort are all wise investments for our future."
 
House leaders are also recommending that the Florida Comprehensive Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program be administered by the Florida Department of Financial Services.  In addition to providing financial incentives for Floridians to mitigate their homes, the program would offer free home retrofit inspections to homeowners.
 
The proposals outlined above are contained in HB 7225 and SB 1980.  The next stop for both bills will be the House and Senate floor respectively.
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