The insurance industry never rests when it comes to lobbying and politics. The Florida Insurance Council has a new leader who used to be its old leader. Insurance lobbyist Cecil Pearce has taken over the reigns from Guy Marvin. Here is a little about Pearce from the press release:
Pearce joins FIC from the American Insurance Association, where he served in Atlanta as vice president for the Southeast Region. Much of his work for AIA has been focused on legislative and regulatory issues here in Florida.
This will be Pearce¹s second tenure as FIC chief operating officer. He was FIC president from 1996 to 2002.
The Florida Insurance Council is the largest insurance trade association in the state of Florida, representing some 200 insurers…AIA is an active member in the Council.
Pearce serves on the Board of Directors for the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF)…
His prior experience includes…vice president of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents; and positions with the Independent Insurance Agents of America…
Mr. Pearce began his career in 1977 working on the House Insurance Committee of the Illinois General Assembly. He also worked for Allstate Insurance Company as a field Underwriting Manager. (emphasis added)
The reason that I emphasized Associated Industries of Florida is because I believe the insurance industry dominates and uses that lobbying organization as well. Pearce is chair of its insurance lobbying arm, which is known as the Financial Services Council. Its web page notes the following:
Ignoring the economic reality of Florida’s hurricane risk, the state has dramatically placed greater responsibility for hurricane losses previously covered by private insurance companies on the backs of taxpayers. In response to this risky proposition, Associated Industries of Florida formed the Financial Services Council (FSC) to address property insurance concerns, as well as other financial issues, and develop long-term, market-based solutions and public-policy recommendations on behalf of the business community.
The Council’s top priority will be developing public policy recommendations on property insurance and providing an opportunity for business leaders across the state to focus on key financial service issues facing Florida consumers and businesses…
In the near term, the Council will mainly focus on advocating for reforms in the property insurance arena so as to bring back a healthy private property insurance market in Florida — returning Citizens to an insurer of last resort and returning Citizens’ assessment base to only residential insurance. (emphasis added)
From the policyholder’s view and based upon the efforts and positions of Associated Industries’ very able and experienced lobbyist, Gerald Wester, here is the Reader’s Digest version of how policyholders should view the lobbying agenda and what a “healthy private insurance market” means:
- Pass laws and regulations that allow insurers to charge as high a rate as they can.
- Pass laws and regulations that reduce required benefits to policyholders.
- Pass laws and regulations that reduce consumer protections from improper claims practices.
Based on the past several years’ legislative agenda of these organizations, this is what these organizations do, at the expense of insurance consumers. They try to achieve these anti-consumer goals by giving money to politicians that favor their positions, developing strategies that make these positions appear to be in the best interest of the public, meet with staff of the our political leaders and regulators to establish a personal relationship and explain these positions, and then draft the legislation for the politicians and provide “talking points” about why the legislation is needed. The people working on these projects also try to attack whoever is against the three items I listed in the agenda. I wonder who could be on that list?
There is nothing illegal about any of this. The lobbyists working for the insurance industry are bright and hardworking. I am certain they have convinced themselves that what they are doing is “good” for the general public or do not care because it is “good” for the people that sign their checks. They are professional lobbyists and public relations types trying to make laws and regulations that make Florida more profitable for their insurance clients.
Since there is no professional lobby for insurance consumers in Tallahassee, the people who buy insurance must rely upon the values and common sense of our politicians, their staff and the people getting paid to regulate the insurance industry to see through the insurance industry’s propaganda and spin. Consumers also have to rely upon the press and media to understand that the public relations strategies and tactics these individuals use are quite sophisticated and hide the true agenda. The press and media have to work harder to find the truth, and that is becoming ever more difficult as the professional press is dealing with financial turmoil.
It is important to know who is working for and supporting the insurance industry’s agenda. It is equally important to know which politicians support or are leaning towards the insurance industry’s agenda. If you look at the Associated Industries current home page, you can be sure that Alex Sink is not the Governor the insurance lobby wants.
With some of these political thoughts simmering in our minds on a hot Friday summer afternoon in Florida, how about this fun song: