Ron DeSantis did not create the current mess of the Florida insurance industry. There are many causes and people to blame for the current mess. The question raised by a recent publication1 is whether the proper measures to correct the problems were not taken because the insurance industry has paid off Florida’s top executive.
The recent publication, How Ron DeSantis Sold Out Florida Homeowners, should be read by everybody involved in Florida’s insurance marketplace. While I do not think all the statistics are fair to DeSantis because he did not cause the increase in the lawsuits nor many systemic problems in Florida’s insurance industry, he is partly responsible for making decisions and suggesting laws for proper reform that protect homeowners and businesses. It is hard to believe someone can do this if he is financially receiving large campaign financing and support from the insurance industry. The publication states:
Ron DeSantis and the ‘Friends of Ron DeSantis. political committee have taken a combined $3.9 million in contributions for insurance industry players—not counting the tidy $125,000 that went to Ron’s 2022 inaugural committee.
Including their donations to the Republican Party of Florida since January 1st, 2019 (days before DeSantis took his oath of office), campaign money from the insurance industry balloons to more than $9.9 million.
The overall insurance industry (which includes property casualty and other types of insurance) has been a top underwriter of DeSantis’s political efforts since he announced his run for Florida governor.
The campaign finance support has taken many forms:
1. An analysis by Florida Watch found that insurance industry donors of $5,000 or more contributed $9.9 million to ‘Friends of Ron DeSantis’ and the Republican Party of Florida since January 1st, 2019–days before DeSantis assumed office. Filings show that the Republican Party of Florida has given significant contributions to DeSantis.
2. Looking just at candidate contributions to Ron DeSantis and contributions to his ‘Friends of Ron DeSantis’ political committee, DeSantis has pulled in a total of $3.9 million from insurance donors since the date of their incorporation (through March 20th, 2023).
3. This includes more than $150,000 contributed in one day by hundreds of State Farm insurance agents or their firms. According to reporting by Florida reporter Jason Garcia, State Farm was one of the key firms opposing a 2021 plan to reduce insurance rates. Garcia speculated that the opposition may have derived from State Farm’s ownership of a competing reinsurance firm, RenaissanceRe.
4. Two property casualty insurance firms–a subsidiary of Heritage Insurance and People’s Trust Insurance–donated a combined total of $125,000 to DeSantis’s 2023 inaugural celebration, which marked the beginning of his final term as governor in a term-limited state. According to reporting in the Washington Post, both companies participated in the $2 billion ‘taxpayer-financed relief program for property insurers’ that DeSantis signed months earlier in a 2022 special session.
This deserves a response. How can Floridians trust the government that is seemingly being bought out by the insurance industry?
This post: Why Are Florida Republican Leaders Rigging the Legal System to Favor Insurance Companies and Prevent Redress For Bad Faith Actions?, noted the following quote from the Palm Beach Post:
‘[I]nsurance companies, executives and agents have donated at least $74 million to Florida politicians or business groups.’ The top recipient: Gov. Ron DeSantis, pulling in $3.3 million. And there’s this gem: Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, has raked in nearly $2 million — from the industry he’s supposed to regulate.
You do not need to be a weatherman to tell which way the wind is blowing. Likewise, you do not need a political science degree to know what the Florida insurance industry has been buying.
The recent laws passed by the government and its actions favor the insurance industry so much more than policyholders. Why? This publication calls for an explanation as to why people should not think that the answer is because Florida’s leaders have been bought out by the insurance industry.
Thought For The Day
We are doing the business of the American people. We do it every day. We have to do it with the same people every day. And if we cannot be civil to one another, and if we stop dealing with those with whom we disagree, or that we don’t like, we would soon stop functioning altogether.
1 How Ron Desantis Sold Out Florida Homeowners: Insurance Rates Soar, Corporations Profit, Campaign Cash Floods In. (May 2023).