Capitol to Courthouse Headliners: Monday, May 11

May 11, 2009

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New insurance legislation would raise rates

With the official start of the 2009 hurricane season only three weeks away, Florida property owners can anticipate higher homeowners insurance rates.


    Uncertainty in Tallahassee as storm season nears

    State’s emergency management director may lead FEMA, but it’s not yet set

    Wildfires in the Everglades, floods to the north and flu scares all over the state. The Florida Division of Emergency Management has been responding to disasters since March, when the state learned it could lose its emergency director to the federal government.


    Market faces upheavals

    Some 40 companies are providing homeowners insurance coverage in Florida but others are backing out of the market.

    The spectre of higher homeowners insurance rates comes at a time when the state’s insurance market is already facing several upheavals.


    Commentary: I’ll make my own home-insurance choice

    With State Farm pulling out of the state, many of its Central Florida customers are finding they face higher premiums and less coverage with smaller companies; I am one of them.


    Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund meetings now on live Webcast

    The FHCF Advisory Council meetings can now be viewed live; the next meeting will be Tuesday, May 12, at 9:00 a.m. EST.


    2 Miami-Dade managers in running for county’s No. 1 emergency job

    With less than a month to go before the June 1 hurricane season starts, Miami-Dade has yet to fill the top job in the department that plans for and responds to hurricanes and other disasters.


    Real estate: Builders look for ways to batten down hatches

    Techniques help homes stand up to hurricanes

    A local builder is implementing a new tool in the quest to build more hurricane-resistant homes.


    Are you ready for storm surge?

    Survey shows residents still aren’t clear about when to flee homes

    If a major hurricane is bearing down on Florida, less than a quarter of residents will know if they should evacuate to escape storm surge.


    Editorial: Property insurance–Consumers need choices

    Gov. Charlie Crist needs to sign a bill that would start to revive a dying property insurance industry in Florida.


    Demotech:  Florida Insurers Appear Healthy

    While the nation’s biggest banks underwent financial “stress tests,” the companies that most likely insure your and your neighbors’ homes have endured a high-stakes stress test of their own.


    Column:  A reckless storm forecast

    As the Florida House debated property insurance legislation last week, Rep. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, repeatedly claimed that Florida is “one storm away from bankruptcy.” Whoa. That sounds bad. Was he right?


    Here’s what you can do to address Chinese drywall problems

    Watch out for fraudulent quick-fix schemes

    Worried your home is tainted with Chinese drywall? Don’t make things worse by falling for bogus test kits or false claims of quick remedies.


    What we think: Go green on cameras

    In Groundhog Day, a TV weatherman covers a story about Punxsutawney Phil, the famed weathervane rodent, and soon learns that he is seemingly forever doomed to repeat the same day.


    Fee in Florida budget may boost car insurance costs

    A fee increase tucked into the state budget has Florida insurers in a tizzy. And it could boost car insurance costs for consumers.


    Minority Disparity in Florida Life Insurance Licensing Exam

    Financial Literacy Coalition Urges CFO Sink to Look Into State Insurance Exams

    In a statement Monday, the Coalition for Financial Security (CFS) urged Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink to look into the results of the latest state report showing that African American and Hispanic test-takers passed the state’s life insurance licensing exam at rates below other demographic groups.


    CFO Sink announces arrests of 7 South Floridians on charges of personal injury protection fraud

    Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink today announced the arrests of seven individuals involved in a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) scam in the Miami area.


    Senator: Investigate Phony Car Warranty Calls

    Unsolicited calls to home and cell phones warning of a final notice and an expiring vehicle warranty are a nuisance and harassment and should be the subject of a federal investigation, a U.S. senator said Sunday.


    State revamps kids’ insurance

    With more than 5,000 local children dropping out of the state’s health insurance program over the past six years, officials say new legislation will help more children get the care they need.


    Crist expected to announce Senate run Tuesday

    Gov. Charlie Crist is expected to announce Tuesday that he is running for the U.S. Senate, setting off a high-stakes game of musical chairs that will completely overhaul the top echelon of state government in 2010.


    Crist Senate bid could threaten GOP control in Florida

    Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s candidacy would provide a good bit of clarity in a jumbled Senate race, but it would throw his home state’s government — and the recent GOP control — into serious flux.


    Alex Sink tells backers she may seek top office

    If Governor Charlie Crist runs for the U.S. Senate, Democrat Alex Sink, the state’s Chief Financial Officer, will likely run for governor.


    Republican stalwart Ken Pruitt to leave Florida Senate

    Sen. Ken Pruitt, a top state Republican who founded Florida’s Bright Futures college scholarship program, has decided to leave office early to spend more time with his family in Port St. Lucie.


    Economic rebound won’t be enough to save Florida’s budget in 2010

    After draining its savings this year, Florida faces doubly difficult choices next year because of a tax structure that depends on population growth.

    Like millions of people across the state, Florida’s government will be living hand to mouth for the next year.


        Florida lawmakers may have to look for other sources of revenue as federal funds dry up

        As the legislative session drew to a belated end Friday, lawmakers were eager to congratulate themselves for their achievements – an education budget that didn’t slice per-student funding (despite difficult economic times), a tobacco tax that would raise state revenues and save lives, and proposals that would expand property tax relief to businesses.


        CFO Sink warns of harm to small businesses and state in letter to Florida U.S. Congressional delegation

        Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink sent a letter to every member of Florida’s Congressional Delegation asking them to repeal a 3 percentwithholding requirement on government contracts, which would be harmful for Florida’ssmall businesses and cost millions to implement in tight budget times.


        A look at the work of the 2009 legislative session

        Here’s a look at what passed and failed by the time the legislative session officially ended Friday.


        Column: A list of bills that Gov. Charlie Crist should veto

        Heck, what fun is having a Legislature if you can’t second-guess it? Here are some of the bills passed in the just-finished session that Gov. Charlie Crist should consider vetoing.


          U.S. Sugar OK’s land sale for Everglades restoration

          Water managers make the next decision.

          The board of U.S. Sugar Corp. voted Friday in favor of Gov. Charlie Crist’s latest proposal to buy much of its farmland for use in Everglades restoration.


          Voters to have say on tax plan to help home buyers

          One of the tax plans that Florida voters will consider next year would give first-time home buyers a break on their tax bills.

          The property tax plan voters will decide on next year might save first-time home buyers $1,500 or more, an analysis shows, raising hopes among lawmakers that it could reinvigorate an ailing housing market that is vital to the Florida economy.


          Florida tax system called fundamentally flawed

          Like millions of people across the state, Florida government will be living hand to mouth for the next year.


          ‘Double-dipping’ bill owes passage to compromises

          At the start of the session, it looked like the political slam-dunk of 2009: Who wouldn’t want to stop top state officers from “double-dipping” in the Florida’s pension pot and payroll?


          NAIC Knows How To Catch A Madoff, Says CEO Vaughan

          If Bernard Madoff had been under the jurisdiction of insurance regulators, he would have been caught sooner, a National Association of Insurance Commissioners official said.


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