Florida Special Session Called to Punish Iran … and Help Floridians with Wind Mitigation

November 6, 2023

Florida lawmakers have agreed to convene in another special session – the sixth in three years – this time to sanction the country of Iran but with a little indirect Florida property insurance relief also on the agenda.

A joint proclamation from legislative leaders and a statement by Gov. Ron DeSantis, posted Oct. 20, were not specific on which insurance matters will be addressed at the Nov. 6 special session.

The proclamation notes only that lawmakers will “provide tax relief and other financial assistance related to damages resulting from Hurricane Idalia” and will expand and fund resiliency efforts related to natural disasters, including tax breaks for families and businesses, plus assistance to farmers.

DeSantis’ statement said the gathering will include “lowering the costs of homeowners’ insurance,” but gave no details.

No bills relating directly to that had been filed, but Florida’s chief financial officer said that the session would renew funding for the popular My Safe Florida Home wind fortification program. The program provides matching grants up to $10,000 for homeowners to retrofit their homes to be more resistant to winds, retrofits that should result in premium discounts.

“With all the cash obligated for work, the governor and Legislature are taking proactive steps to help more policyholders, without waiting for the regular session. This is a big deal,” CFO Jimmy Patronis said in statement.

The program was launched in 2006 and was revived in 2022. Some 70,000 homeowners have applied for grants, $209 million has been set aside for grants, and $23 million has been disbursed, program director Steven Fielder said.

The average premium discount for houses that utilize the My Safe Florida Home grants is about $1,017 per home, Fielder said. But because homeowner premiums have risen so much in recent months, hundreds of grant recipients who undertook the mitigation efforts have not seen their premiums drop.

About 1,325 homeowners this year have received a premium discount due to the wind retrofits, but another 644 saw only smaller premium increases or no increases because their premiums had already spiked, he noted. Some homeowners have benefitted because the hardening work prevented an insurer from non-renewing the policy, said Fielder.