It seems like Citizens Property Insurance Corporation has been in the news an awful lot lately. We’re used to hearing about proposed changes to the state-run insurer during the legislature’s annual session and occasionally during rate hearings, but there have been indications over the last few months that raise the danger of sweeping anti-consumer changes – and in turn the public consciousness – to a whole new level.
You might remember that just last week Citizens’ board of directors met in a Tampa hotel to discus the most effective and efficient ways to depopulate the state-run insurer. Their primary recommendation: raise rates.
While depopulating the state-run insurer over time is certainly a worthy goal, timing and the mechanisms proposed to achieve these means raise serious questions.
Historically, the elected legislature has decided how to implement Citizens policies that affect almost 1.5 million Floridians. Why now, then, are the decisions being made by a group of directors who are not accountable to the voters of Florida? What has changed?
It’s become clear that Governor Rick Scott’s stated goal to eliminate Citizens altogether is politically impossible. The only way to satisfy this ambition is to circumvent the democratic process and do it unilaterally.
Enter Citizens Interim President Tom Grady.
Formerly the head of the Office of Financial Regulation, Tom Grady stepped down from his post to take the reigns as Rick Scott’s appointed interim president of Citizens in early March. Grady and Scott are no strangers – Before running for Governor, Rick Scott served as the finance chair for Tom Grady’s successful run for state house in Naples. In fact, Grady and Scott are neighbors and close friends.
Since Grady took over for former President Scott Wallace, there has been a markedly more aggressive attempt to depopulate Citizens. Grady has even hit the road, touring the state and speaking with editorial boards in an attempt to re-brand harsh rate hikes as good medicine.
This seems to be the tactic du jour for insurance industry supporters – divide and conquer. Will Floridians be fooled?