On February 7, 2011, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee met in Tallahassee to discuss SB 408. This was supposed to be the meeting at which the full bill would be voted on. However, it soon became clear that the bill was too complicated to make it through this meeting in time. The meeting was scheduled from 10:15am – 12:15pm. When the committee got to the portion of the agenda dealing with SB 408, they began where they left off last week – debating the numerous amendments being offered by Senator Mike Fasano. If you read this blog regularly, you know that Senator Fasano is often a voice in the dark for consumers on this committee. As Fasano began to go through his amendments, it was clear that his pro-consumer amendments were going to fail. In fact, several of the amendments were compromises between the industry and consumer positions. Nevertheless, they were consistently voted down. The St. Petersburg Times describes the testy exchange between Senators Alexander, Fasano and Negron. My favorite part of the meeting:

Things got testy when Fasano’s amendment requiring that homeowners receive an engineer’s report after repairs are made came up. Sen. J.D. Alexander argued against the amendment, starting out by speaking broadly about the problems with sinkhole insurance claims and then charging that Fasano’s amendment was probably written by a plaintiff’s attorney.

Fasano shot back that he didn’t need to be lectured on the sinkhole insurance issue, and wondered why nothing benefiting homeowners was included in the bill. "I could easily suggest this whole bill before us was written by the insurance industry," he said.

Continue Reading Public Testimony Does Make a Difference

Megyn Kelly, of FoxNews interviewed me last Friday. The topic was “Who Will Take the Lead in Deficit Debate.” She appropriately raised the important issue whether our political leaders have the courage to change spending and tax policy to prevent government bankruptcy. Here is the Interview:


Continue Reading Political Courage and Standing Up to The Insurance Lobby

State Farm lobbyists are going to have their work cut out for them after Paige St. John‘s story, HOW STATE FARM CASHED IN ON A CRISIS, documented how State Farm used financial slight of hand and friendly politicians in the Florida legislature to help create an insurance crisis leading to greater profits through a re-insurance subsidiary.

Continue Reading Did State Farm Dupe Florida Leaders?

Governor Charlie Crist will certainly be asking himself the question whether the property insurance legislation before him is bad for average Florida insurance consumers. Yesterday’s afternoon post, Pay Higher Premiums and Get Less Coverage Legislation — Can Anybody Explain Why This is Good for Floridians? provided a simple explanation of why many are calling for Governor Crist to veto this legislation. The analysis is not easy because the proposed law was rolled into one massive piece of legislation, some very bad and some good. The media is starting to pick up the overall aspects of the proposed law.

Continue Reading Is the Proposed Property Insurance Bill Bad for the Average Florida Insurance Consumer?

The Florida Senate Banking and Insurance Committee has a number of very intelligent and very well meaning members. Two of them, Senator Rhonda Storms and Mike Fasano stood up yesterday to the insurance lobbyists who know little about insurance, but a lot about propaganda and politics. Full time and professional insurance lobbyists have one agenda–achieve their clients agenda. They have an army of lawyers, a ton of money, and their message is "spin" at its finest. No wonder so many public servants can get snowed by the misinformation and insurance industry proposed laws.

Continue Reading Senators Mike Fasano and Rhonda Storms Come to the Rescue of Policyholders

The Florida legislator is full of "flip flop" legislators that are reversing laws made in 2005 and 2006 which supported lower insurance rates and protected insurance consumers from unscrupulous insurers. Governor Charlie Crist ran on a platform of helping Floridians keep insurance rates down and he is sticking to that promise even as other politicians who once voted for such laws are now firmly supporting the opposite measures. These "flip flop" politicians are filing laws that would allow rates to go as high as the insurance industry can make them and laws that take benefits away from consumers following disaster. Crist seems to be standing tall against the insurance industry and for the people, unlike other politicians who are currently getting their responses and "speaking points" from insurance lobbyists.

Continue Reading A Man of His Word: Unlike Other Flip Flop Politicians on Insurance Rates, Crist Sticks to His Promise

I wonder how our clients, the Leeds, would feel if they had purchased only catastrophic sinkhole coverage or no sinkhole coverage, rather than the normal sinkhole coverage required when they purchased their "all-risk" insurance policy. Their home slowly but surely cracked, drooped, and sank over several years before it was condemned. If they "saved" money on their premium as Florida Senator Mike Fasano successfully pushed for in legislation, they would have lost the entire investment on their home. They would also still owe money on the mortgage, possibly causing bankruptcy.

Continue Reading Senator Fasano Defends His View Regarding Opting Out of Sinkhole Coverages

Florida Senator Mike Fasano, a public servant ever vigilant about consumers of regulated industries getting ripped by the amounts they have to pay for mandated services and products, forwarded a recent news article, “Group Backs Florida Property Insurance Rate Hike.” When the Florida legislators and Governor were concerned about the severe escalation of property insurance premiums following the 2004 and 2005 storm seasons, they froze the rates charged by Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. Governor Charlie Crist ran for elected office on a platform of preventing the severe escalation of such prices. At that time, many of Florida’s legislators ran their political campaigns suggesting they were no friend of the insurance industry that was raising rates in an extraordinary manner. While Governor Crist proved he is a man of his word by vetoing legislation which would have allowed major insurers to charge whatever they want, only a few elected legislators seem to remember the promises they made to their electorate. Associated Industries supports those politicians that are more concerned about insurers profits than the promises to their constituents—except when elections are around the corner.

Continue Reading Associated Industries and Private Insurers Want Florida Policyholders to Pay as Much as Possible for Property Insurance

Two significant pieces of information show a continued trend in the property insurance business and suggests that insurance customers should not rely on the loyalty of their insurance companies. An article by Bea Garcia in the Miami Herald, Florida May Gut Discounts for Hurricane Shutters highlights the industry wide issues raised by State Farm’s requests to eliminate discounts and “recalibrate” the terms of previously granted discounts for measures taken to protect structures from hurricane damage.

Continue Reading Protective Safeguard and State Farm Discounts Disappearing: The Fleeting Loyalty of Insurers to Customers