Ron DeSantis did not create the current mess in Florida’s insurance industry. There are many causes and people to blame for the current mess. The question raised by a recent publication1 is whether the appropriate steps to correct the problems were not taken because the insurance industry has paid Florida’s top executive.
The latest publication, How Ron DeSantis sold out Florida homeowners, should be read by everyone involved in Florida’s insurance market. While I don’t think all statistics are fair to DeSantis because he didn’t cause the rise in lawsuits or many systemic problems in Florida̵7;s insurance industry, he is partially responsible for making decisions and proposing laws for proper reforms that protect homeowners and businesses. It is hard to believe that anyone can do this if he is financially receiving large campaign funding and support from the insurance industry. The publication states:
Ron DeSantis and Ron DeSantis’ friends. political committee has taken a total of $3.9 million in insurance industry contributions — not counting the handsome $125,000 that went to Ron’s 2022 inaugural committee.
Including their donations to the Republican Party of Florida since January 1, 2019 (days before DeSantis was sworn in), campaign money from the insurance industry balloons to more than $9.9 million.
The general insurance industry (which includes casualty and other types of insurance) has been one of the primary insurers for DeSanti’s political efforts since he announced his candidacy for Florida governor.
The campaign finance support has taken many forms:
1. A Florida Watch analysis found that underwriters of $5,000 or more contributed $9.9 million to “Friends of Ron DeSantis” and the Republican Party of Florida since Jan. 1, 2019 — days before DeSantis took office. Records show the Republican Party of Florida has made significant contributions to DeSantis.
2. Looking only at candidate contributions to Ron DeSantis and contributions to his “Friends of Ron DeSantis” political committee, DeSantis has collected a total of $3.9 million from insurers since the date of their incorporation (through March 20, 2023).
3. This includes more than $150,000 contributed in one day by hundreds of State Farm insurance agents or their companies. According to reports from Florida reporter Jason Garcia, State Farm was one of the key companies opposing a 2021 plan to lower insurance rates. Garcia speculated that the opposition may have stemmed from State Farm’s ownership of a competing reinsurance company, RenaissanceRe.
4. Two property damage insurers — a subsidiary of Heritage Insurance and People’s Trust Insurance — donated a combined $125,000 to DeSanti’s 2023 inauguration, marking the start of his final term as governor in a term-limited state. According to reporting in Washington Postboth companies participated in the $2 billion “taxpayer-funded property insurance relief program” that DeSantis signed into law 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 entry: Why are Florida Republican leaders rigging the legal system to favor insurance companies and prevent recovery for bad faith actions?noted the following quotation from Palm Beach Post:
‘[I]insurance companies, executives and agents have donated at least $74 million to politicians or business groups in Florida.’ The top recipient: Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is 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 don’t have to be a weatherman to see which way the wind blows. Similarly, you don’t need a political science degree to know what the insurance industry in Florida has bought.
The recent laws passed by the government and its measures benefit the insurance industry so much more than the policy holders. Why? This publication calls for an explanation as to why people should not believe that the answer is that Florida’s leaders have been bought off by the insurance industry.
We do 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 can’t be kind to each other, and if we stop dealing with those we don’t agree with, or don’t like, we would soon cease to function altogether.
– Howard Baker
1 How Ron Desantis sold out Florida homeowners: Insurance rates rise, corporate profits, campaign coffers pour in. (May 2023).