Florida legislators will be debating insurance on the Senate floor today. The Senators are likely to have significant debate because recent indications are that there is extraordinary controversy about how to “fix" all of Florida’s property insurance problems.
None of this should come as any surprise. There are no easy solutions to any of these issues. Florida’s legislators and regulators have been dealing with these issues since Hurricane Andrew devastated Miami in 1992. The prospect of any easy answer to such a complex and changing problem is wishful thinking, at best. I would encourage them not to take a "let’s try this because what do we have to lose" approach as a reason to make law. There has been an understandable tendency for frustrated and well intentioned representatives to feel this way. Legislative action based on that frustration will generally lead to consequences far worse than law based upon rational expectations.
Consumers will be negatively impacted if Florida were to loosen insurance rates and forms from regulation. Free market deregulation lead to bankruptcy and far more uncertainty in the property insurance field over a hundred years ago. While I can appreciate how free market competition can help in many industries, it has historically been a complete failure in the property and casualty field, where booms and busts result in unaffordable premiums following disasters and uncollectable insurance caused by insurance executives placing needed surplus into their own pockets. We have experienced both in Florida to some extent, even with regulation. It won’t get better without the regulation.
So, I hope and pray that common sense prevails in the hearts and minds of our elected leaders. A lot is riding on them being smart and practical rather than ideological.
We’ll keep you posted on the result.