WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A former state senator believes millions more in state funding is needed to properly tackle Florida's property insurance crisis.
A few weeks ago, Gov. Ron Desantis announced his proposed budget for fiscal year 2024, which included $107 million to help make the My Safe Florida Home program more permanent.
"The My Safe Florida Home program provides grants to individuals to harden their home to make them safer against these types of wind storms," Stacey Giulianti, co-founder of Florida Peninsula Insurance, told WPTV on Dec. 5. "The homeowner pays a third, the state will pay two-thirds of these types of upgrades, up to $10,000. That's a lot of money."
These grants help homeowners protect their homes against heavy rain and wind, aiming to reduce their insurance premiums.
The goal is to help Floridians, like Delray Beach residents Marcia and David Hayot, whom WPTV spoke to earlier this month.
"We had stopped insurance because it had gotten prohibitively expensive, and we just decided let's put our own money aside, and if we need it, it'll be there for us," Marcia said.
While some feel the My Safe Florida Home program will help combat Florida's insurance crisis, others argue it's not enough.
Jeff Brandes, a former state senator and president of the Florida Policy Project, recently called the My Safe Florida Home program "political theater" at the Florida Chamber's annual insurance summit in Orlando earlier this month.
"I think it's ineffective at best and honestly, it would take about 550 years, given the current amount of funding, to just handle the houses we have in Florida today and probably not all of the house," Brandes said. "This is the thing that people aren't talking about."
Brandes, and other state leaders who spoke at the summit, feel the mitigation program would need billions of dollars to effectively combat property losses.
"Yes, you get up to a $10,000 grant, and it's a $1, we'll give you $2 for every $1 you're willing to put in, but ultimately, if anybody has priced windows lately, oftentimes it costs $20,000 to $30,000 to replace the windows on a house, and you've also got to do your garage door," Brandes said. "So, it can be a very expensive process, and I think that's what's understated here."
WPTV contacted Desantis' office for comment, but we have not yet heard back.
"Unfortunately, to my knowledge, there's not a study going on in the state of Florida right now as it relates to property insurance and things that can lower rates," Brandes said. "I think that's just malpractice."