Letter To Legislators About The Florida Insurance Crisis
The coalition of groups for insurance reform recommended that people send the following letter to their legislators. It covers each of the important points that the coalition members agreed upon:
I am one of the many voters and residents of Florida pleading with you to do the right thing during your special session on insurance. Skyrocketing property insurance premiums are driving my friends and neighbors out of this beautiful state. I do not want to follow them. Please, do not succumb to the temptations of the insurance lobbyists. Remember that you represent the people of Florida, and we are watching you.
I strongly urge you to support these fundamental insurance reforms:
PRIOR RATE APPROVAL. Insurance companies can send out bills with any rate they like and ask for approval later. Consumers have no choice but to pay these bills, and if the rate is ultimately disapproved, experience tells us that they will rarely see a refund. This is not only patently unfair, but it effectively diminishes the ability of the Office of Insurance Regulation to regulate. "Use and file" must be rescinded.
REFORM CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE. This quasi-governmental entity is the last resort for millions of Floridians. They must be permitted to set rates that are actuarially sound, particularly in areas where this is no competition, and improve their customer service. Make Citizens competitive.
MOVE THE CONSUMER ADVOCATE. The Consumer Advocate on Insurance Issues should be a non-political, independent office with the ability to represent consumers like the advocates on utility issues do. Move the Consumer Advocate to the Office of the Public Counsel.
ELIMINATE CHERRY PICKING. Insurance companies shift risk to consumers by selecting the "safest" customers. Spread the risk through broader use of the Catastrophe Fund rather than allowing companies to cherry-pick by perils, zipcodes and policies.
ELIMINATE PUP COMPANIES. National insurers establish Florida-only shells to get access to re-insurance and funnel profits to parent companies without providing Floridians with access to the parent companies' reserves.
STOP SEGREGATING FLORIDIANS. Hurricanes do not discriminate among single-family houses, apartment buildings, condominiums or vacation homes. Insurance companies should not either. A home is a home, whether it is the house where you're raising your family, the apartment you're renting while you work as a teacher, the condominium complex where you're spending your retirement or the vacation home you've saved for to winter in paradise. Continuing these distinctions in form of ownership or building use will devastate our real estate and tourism economy. Make residential rates apply to all residences.
HARDEN OUR HOMES. A uniform statewide building code will lower rates for everyone. The Panhandle exemption must be eliminated, and the state should establish a consistent source of funding to help fortify Florida homes. People who meet and exceed their building codes should receive appropriate rates and mitigation credits for doing so.
As a representative of the people of Florida, you have an obligation to work for our best interest and an unprecedented opportunity to bring about real change. If not, our economy will suffer irrevocably and our way of life will change dramatically. Please, reform insurance now.