Give Florida homeowners choice on insurance
Letters to the Editor
In Print: Monday, June 8, 2009
This spring, more than 80 percent of Florida’s state legislators voted for the "consumer choice" property insurance bill, which would give our constituents new, high-quality options for protecting their homes.
House Bill 1171 enjoyed strong bipartisan support and the long list of "yeas" included many Republicans and Democrats in both chambers. I was among those who voted yes and who is now urging Gov. Charlie Crist to allow this good bill to become law.
Why? There are two basic reasons.
This bill would allow consumers to choose for themselves whether they want to pay a market-based, actuarially sound rate to have their home covered by a large, well-known insurer which they know and trust will have enough money to pay their claim if a hurricane hits Florida this season.
Second, Florida simply must do more to attract large, well-capitalized private insurers — and their billions of dollars in claims-paying capital — back to our state. That’s because our state-subsidized insurance system is essentially broke and may need a huge bailout from all Florida taxpayers if a big storm drains its cash.
Your June 1 editorial, This storm season, a few signs of hope, did not exactly give taxpayers the total accurate picture of House Bill 1171.
You claim that the bill would allow large insurers to "gouge" customers and "charge whatever they want." These statements simply aren’t true.
Buying one of these consumer choice policies is entirely voluntary. If a consumer chooses to buy a consumer choice policy, it’s because they want one. The policies can’t be forced on anyone.
Large insurers won’t be able to charge "whatever they want" for a consumer choice policy, as you claim. Rather, they will charge a rate that’s regulated by the market, not by the state. If they hope to sell any of these policies, they will have to price them at a rate the consumer thinks is a good deal.
House Bill 1171 is about more choices for consumers and about reducing the unfunded hurricane risk our great state faces. Governor, please let Floridians choose for themselves and support House Bill 1171.
Janet Long, Democratic state House member, St. Petersburg.