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Trump blasts DeSantis for insurance company ‘bailout’ legislation

DeSantis and GOP lawmakers want to make it much harder to sue insurance companies.
 
President Donald Trump listens to a question from a reporter during a meeting with newly elected governors in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Dec. 13, 2018, in Washington. From left, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker, D-Ill., Governor-elect Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., and Trump.
President Donald Trump listens to a question from a reporter during a meeting with newly elected governors in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Dec. 13, 2018, in Washington. From left, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker, D-Ill., Governor-elect Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., and Trump. [ EVAN VUCCI | AP ]
Published March 16, 2023|Updated March 20, 2023

TALLAHASSEE — Former President Donald Trump blasted Gov. Ron DeSantis for wanting to give insurance companies widespread protections from lawsuits, calling it “the worst Insurance Scam in the entire Country!”

Taking to Truth Social just after midnight on Thursday, Trump said Floridians are getting “crushed” by their insurance companies.

“Ron DeSanctimonious is delivering the biggest insurance company BAILOUT to Globalist Insurance Companies, IN HISTORY,” Trump wrote. “He’s also crushed Florida homeowners whose houses were destroyed in the Hurricane - They’re getting pennies on the dollar.”

DeSantis has supported House Bill 837, one of the priorities of House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, and the companion Senate Bill 236. That legislation would make it harder for Floridians to sue their insurance companies. The bills are being fast-tracked through the Legislature this year.

Related: Florida lawmakers want to help insurance companies by limiting lawsuits

Trump also appeared to criticize DeSantis’ insurance commissioners, who approve rate increases. Former Commissioner David Altmaier stepped down in December and took a job this week as an insurance industry lobbyist.

“His Insurance Commissioner does NOTHING, while Florida’s lives are ruined,” Trump wrote. “This is the worst Insurance Scam in the entire Country!”

Altmaier’s replacement, his former chief of staff Mike Yaworsky, was sworn in on Monday.

The sponsors of the House and Senate bills defended the legislation on Thursday.

“That sounds like fake news,” said Rep. Tommy Gregory, R-Lakewood Ranch. “I have a hard time believing that he would misunderstand the issue that much.”

“I just disagree with him,” said Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Elkton.

Trump has stepped up his criticism of DeSantis in recent months as the two head for an expected clash during the 2024 GOP presidential primary. DeSantis has not announced plans to run for president but is widely expected to do so.

But Republicans within the Florida Legislature have also been divided on whether to award insurance companies with long-sought legal reforms while Floridians pay the highest auto and homeowners insurance premiums in the nation.

Proponents say reducing litigation will help insurance rates go down over time. DeSantis and state lawmakers have previously passed bills making it harder to sue property insurance companies.

This year, they want to extend those protections to all lines of insurance, such as automobile, life, liability and health. The changes include making it riskier for lawyers to take cases against insurance companies and making insurance companies pay less in injury cases.

Some Republican lawmakers have said the bills tilt the scales too far in favor of insurance companies and note that homeowners insurance premiums continue to rise despite years of legislation limiting lawsuits.

“We are not sticking up for small businesses and individuals in the state of Florida, who are being taken advantage of by a number of these insurance companies who are not doing right by them,” Sen. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, an attorney, said on Wednesday.

DeSantis’ office did not respond to two emailed requests for comment as of early Thursday evening.

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