Eleventh hour fight against Florida’s less controversial property insurance bill
Posted by Julie Patel on May 21, 2009 09:58 AM
Florida lawmaker Julio Robaina and two consumer groups are calling for Gov. Charlie Crist to veto property insurance measures passed by the Florida legislature this year.
And they’re not just talking about the controversial deregulation bill that would allow large insurers to essentially charge what they want. They also want a veto and a special session on a broad property insurance measure that would increase property insurance premiums across the state in order to reduce financial risks for Floridians if a major hurricane hits. All automobile and home insurance policyholders pay fees to offset deficits in state insurance entities such as Citizens Property Insurance.
"Our constituents understand that Citizens needs to raise revenue…but these are not the times to raise premiums 10, 20, 30 percent during the next three years," said Rep. Robaina (R-Miami). "I would highly encourage people at this point to call the governor and request a special session just on the insurance issues."
Robaina said a special session would give lawmakers another chance to either continue the Citizens’ rate freeze or perhaps reduce the size of the annual increase to match the inflation rate.
Kimberly Pope, director of the Maitland-based Insured’s Public Action Coalition, said she hopes Crist is open to asking lawmakers to rewrite the main insurance bill. If he simply vetoed it, there’s a chance some Citizens’ premiums in South Florida would increase by 80 percent.
"If he wasn’t running for Senate, he could sign the bill and not look back. But if he does sign the bill, its our opinion that he shows that he is in favor of a rate increase," said Pope, a public adjuster, hired by policyholders to represent them in claims disputes.
Waldo Faura Jr., a public adjuster who co-founded consumer group Floridians in Action, said before increasing Citizens’ premiums dramatically, he wants lawmakers to scrutinize how Citizens spends its money and if there are ways it can cut costs. He and his members have called the governor’s office and sent e-mails and letters as part of a last minute campaign against the legislation.