CFO Sink urges action on insurance
By BRENT KALLESTAD
The Associated Press
Published: Friday, March 13, 2009 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 13, 2009 at 7:05 a.m.
TALLAHASSEE – Florida lawmakers need to make some smart decisions on reducing the risk for Florida property owners from hurricane damage, the state’s chief financial officer said Thursday.
In a letter to key legislative leaders, CFO Alex Sink said property owners cannot afford shocks to their homeowners insurance rates like those that came after several hurricanes hit the state in 2004 and 2005.
She recommended the Legislature authorize the Cabinet to shop for reinsurance in the fall instead of the spring to take advantage of more favorable market conditions. She also asked lawmakers to continue a $20million program as an incentive for citizens to make home improvements that make homes less susceptible to wind damage.
"It’s time to start making smart decisions and enacting solutions, so that Florida will be less financially exposed when a major storm hits," Sink said. "We must establish a long-term, strategic vision for addressing hurricane risk."
A satisfactory solution has been elusive for lawmakers and regulators alike for the past four years.
A spokesman for Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said he supports "viable solutions that will further his efforts during these difficult economic times."
Sink said the $28 billion exposure to the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund should be incrementally cut back and that the state-backed Citizens Insurance Corp. should be reduced to the role of insurer of last resort. Citizens presently has more than 1 million Floridians insured at below-market rates.
State Farm, the largest private property insurer in Florida with roughly 1.2 million policies, announced this year that it was shutting down its property business here because it could not guarantee the solvency of its Florida operation.