News & Updates


Consumer advocates divided on property insurance bill as it hits Crist’s desk

Posted by Julie Patel on May 17, 2010 07:45 PM

Consumer advocates are divided on a property insurance bill that aims to strengthen the state’s property insurance market by making it easier for insurers to raise rates and reduce certain claims costs.

Gov. Charlie Crist received the bill, SB 2044, on Monday and has 15 days to sign or veto it.

Several consumer groups have come out in support of the bill, while some still oppose it.

“We’re not all gung ho about it but we do think there’s some good things in it in particular for residents of the Keys,” Heather Carruthers, president of Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe, said today.

Walter Dartland, executive director of the Consumer Federation of the Southeast, announced Friday that he also endorses the measure.

“Hurricane season is less than a month away and there is nothing more important than ensuring appropriate insurance reforms are in place to give property owners peace of mind during what could be an extremely active season,” wrote Dartland, a former Deputy Attorney General who is a founder of the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. “To do nothing in light of the current situation increases risk to consumers and insurers.”

Dartland said the measure isn’t perfect but included feedback from Insurance Consumer Advocate Sean Shaw and Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, who backs the bill. Shaw didn’t give the measure a ringing endorsement but has said it would be “slightly better” if it becomes law than if it doesn’t.

Florida Consumer Action Network Executive Director Bill Newton opposes the bill as does Ginny Stevans, former president of a consumer group that is now folded, and Waldo Faura and Belen Valladares, public insurance adjusters who founded the group, Floridians in Action.

“I, for one, will not give up the fight for the ‘people’ of Florida…the real people, you remember those are the ones that really cannot afford the insurance rates and that are not willing to buckle under the pressure of the insurance industry. This makes me really frustrated that any ‘consumer’ group would actually back a bill that will increase rates,” Stevans wrote.