For this installment of Tallahassee Spotlight, we focus on a House member at the center of all property insurance discussions in the Florida Legislature — Bryan Nelson, a Republican insurance agent from Fort Myers. Like Senator Garrett Richter, who was profiled last week, Representative Nelson chairs his chamber’s committee on insurance – the Insurance & Banking subcommittee. That committee is charged with reviewing all insurance legislation passing through the state House.

Like Senator Richter, Bryan Nelson has been a tireless advocate for the insurance industry, personally sponsoring some of the most anti-consumer bills considered by the House over the past few years.

  • HB 1341 (2010) – House Companion to SB 2044, which made sweeping changes to Florida’s insurance laws (made it easier to increase rates).
  • HB 4099 (2011) – House companion to SB 408 which made sweeping changes to Florida’s insurance laws and was SIGNED INTO LAW.
  • HB 7181 (2011) – General Repeal of the Correlation of Mitigation Discounts, Credits, or Other Rate Differentials to the Uniform Home Grading Scale.
  • HB 1447 (2009) – Sinkhole bill that made changes similar to those contained in SB 408.

News stories abound regarding Representative Nelson’s brazen pro-insurance industry stances:

  • “Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, who leads the Senate’s insurance committee, and Rep. Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka, said they plan to file broad property insurance measures that would expand on an insurance bill passed last year that, among other things, allowed insurers to increase premiums by up to 10 percent to pass certain backup coverage costs to policyholders.” – South Florida Sun Sentinel
  • “Rep. Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka, chairman of the House Banking and Insurance subcommittee, urged lawmakers to pass a bill that, among other things, will help Citizens and other insurers address a growing number of expensive sinkhole claims”. – Bradenton Times
  • “Senate Bill 408 did not raise insurance rates; it simply gave insurance companies the ability to recoup increasing costs of reinsurance more quickly… As my good friend Rep. Bill Proctor said, “if you move to Pittsburgh, expect to shovel snow in the winter, and if you live on the coast of Florida, expect to pay more for your insurance.” – an Op Ed from Rep Nelson in the Sun-Sentinel

Representative Nelson has a true affinity for painting policyholders as fraudsters.

  • “What’s happening is the policyholder is saying, ‘I’m going to get my $2,000, $3,000 for the kitchen floor but I’m not going to replace the kitchen floor,’ – Bryan Nelson
  • Citing massive incidences of fraud, Rep. Nelson filed a bill called the Comprehensive Insurance Fraud Investigation and Prevention Act of 2010. If passed, the bill would have capped sinkhole claims to 25% of the cost of the home. – WFTV

Representative Nelson was given the chance to provide answers to a standard questionnaire, but he never responded to my inquiry. Since the Representative was unavailable or unwilling to respond, we can only let his pro-industry record speak for itself. Representative Nelson has shown time and time again that he is a strong advocate for the insurance industry rather than his own constituents. With regards to insurance issues, Representative Nelson is no friend to Florida’s 8 million policyholders.