Let market reign
Most Floridians want insurer choice
Fresh information should help Gov. Charlie Crist decide the fate of House Bill 1171, which landed on his desk Friday.
Known as the consumer choice bill, the legislation would allow large insurance companies to increase rates without state approval but with some protections for customers.
State Farm and Allstate, two consumer favorites with long histories of service and satisfaction, would thus not be compelled to flee Florida over the stranglehold state regulators have placed on rates.
A new Florida Chamber of Commerce poll found that 60 percent of the state’s voters want greater consumer options and believe Crist should sign the bill. Only 24 percent disagree.
Insurance company solvency is a key motivator. The survey determined that 60 percent are either “very” or “somewhat” worried that their insurance company may not be able to cover their claim should hurricanes strike.
Voters apparently are leery of the start-up insurers that flocked to Florida recently.
Plus, the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and Florida’s Hurricane Catastrophe Fund remain on shaky financial ground and expose taxpayers to billions in coverage should a major hurricane devastate the state.
Also last week, the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, comprised of 26 members of the House and Senate, sent the governor a letter in support of the bill.
Caucus chair Gary Siplin, an Orlando senator, cited consumer trust of large, well-capitalized companies.
“These companies have insured our homes, even if they were older or hadn’t received costly mitigation upgrades that other companies require in order to write a policy,” he wrote. “I am concerned that the only option left for many of our constituents would be to insure their homes with Citizens for a much higher premium.”
The bill protects consumers with provisions that require: notice that rates are not regulated; a price comparison with Citizens; and windstorm damage. Property owners also can consult the Office of Insurance Regulation’s Web site to compare rates.
We again urge Gov. Crist to sign this consumer choice bill and set aside the state’s hard-line stand against the big insurers. Let Floridians decide whether or not to pay higher premiums.
As we opined in May, let the free market reign.