For this installment of Tallahassee Spotlight, we focus on a Senate member at the center of all property insurance discussions in the Florida Legislature. Senator Richter is the Chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. All property insurance legislation must come through his committee at some point. In addition to serving as Chairman, Senator Richter has personally sponsored the most significant property insurance bills over the last few years:

  • SB 2044 (2010) – made sweeping changes to Florida’s insurance laws (made it easier to increase rates)
  • SB 408 (2011) – made sweeping changes to Florida’s insurance laws SIGNED INTO LAW
  • SB 1950 (2009) – imposed certain regulations on Public Adjusters

Those bills, as well as his voting record on the following bills/amendments illustrate his pro-industry inclination:

  • SB 2264 (2010) – imposed various restrictions on Public Adjusters. Voted Yes in Committee and on the Floor
  • SB 2036 (2009) – deregulates insurance rates. Voted Yes in Committee and on the Floor

In the following quotes, Senator Richter defends his views on Florida’s insurance problems:

This bill [SB408] is very consumer friendly…It attacks cost drivers. It attacks fraud. It promotes competition….All of those things, he said, will lower costs for consumers.

Sweeping property insurance bill passes Senate, St. Petersburg Times, April 28, 2011

I commend Governor Scott for signing SB 408 this afternoon as we continue to promote a competitive market with solvent companies that our policyholders can rely on. SB 408 is a result of a collaborative effort among regulators, insurers and consumer advocates.

Senator Richter Press Release, May 17, 2011

Despite the fact that we haven’t had a major category hurricane (in the last few years), Florida has been hit with hurricane sinkhole.

Florida Lawmakers Consider Insurance ‘Bailout’ After Puzzling Spike in Sinkhole Claims, Fox News, April 19, 2011

Richter believes insurance companies have been tagged for millions of dollars in questionable, if not fraudulent, claims where policyholders received settlements for something as minor as a crack in the driveway or didn’t use settlement money to repair damages.

Lawmakers delay action on property insurance bill, Gainesville Sun, February 7, 2011

Senator Richter was given the chance to provide answers to a standard questionnaire, but he never responded to my inquiry. Since the Senator was unavailable or unwilling to respond, we can only let his pro-industry record speak for itself. Indeed, after a close examination of his recent votes, it is clear that Senator Richter is no friend to Florida’s 8 million policyholders.