Last week, in "Insurers Helped Write Bill Intended to Shrink Citizens," Paige St. John reported that the insurance industry is writing the pro-insurance legislation that some of our elected Legislators are currently advocating.
A controversial bill that would eliminate a state tool designed to keep property insurance rates in check was written for lawmakers by the insurance industry, the Herald-Tribune has learned.
The bill includes a number of provisions argued for by private insurers to stop Citizens Property Insurance, the state-run carrier, from competing with them for business. It aims to keep Florida homeowners from flocking to Citizens and would force them to buy policies in the private market even when rates are higher and the carriers less stable.
Authors of the draft bill initially told the Herald-Tribune the legislation introduced by Rep. Jim Boyd, a Bradenton insurance agent, and Sen. Alan Hays, an influential member of the Senate insurance committee, is nearly identical to what was drawn up in private by industry lobbyists.
The insurance industry is very well organized and financed, and insurance lawyers play a prominent role in drafting such legislation for the insurance industry. A memo we recently obtained establishes this fact. It was addressed to Sam Miller, of the Florida Insurance Council, and contains American Strategic Insurance General Counsel’s proposed sinkhole legislation:
Section 4. Sinkhole Tail Claim
(1) Essential elements of a sinkhole tail claim are:
a. “Structural Damage” to the insured property; and
b. Evidence that Structural Damage to the insured property was caused by covered “sinkhole activity”; and
c. Proof the loss occurred during the policy or endorsement period.
(2) A person may not report or file a sinkhole claim in the absence of a prima facie showing that the essential elements exist and are part of the proposed claim. The prima facie showing must include all of the following:
a. A clear and accurate sworn proof of loss establishing that the claim was a result of structural damage to the insured property;
b. A clear and accurate sworn proof of loss identifying the components of the structure (i.e. foundation, walls, rafters, roof, etc.) damaged as a result of loss from the covered “sinkhole activity”;
c. A clear and accurate sworn statement by the insured attesting to the date the damage that is the subject of the proposed claim was discovered;
d. A clear and accurate sworn statement by a professional engineer as defined in section 627.706(2)(d) certifying that the structural damage to the insured property occurred during the policy or endorsement period as a result of sinkhole activity.
The point is that when the insurance industry is writing the bills that become law without change by those who are elected to represent the people, many start to wonder who the Representatives and Senators are representing. Insurance companies cannot vote. They do not live, eat or breathe. Yet, they can be more influential that a Legislator’s constituents; many people work for these legal entities and carry out legal activities, such a lobbying for laws that may harm the people our Legislators are supposed to represent.