EDITORIAL: Our position: Presidential candidates should help solve Forida property-insurance crisis

Jan 25, 2008



Our position: Presidential candidates should help solve Florida property-insurance crisis

January 25, 2008

If the candidates for president are smart, they’ll keep promising relief to homeowners who’ve taken a beating on property insurance.

If the voters are smarter, they won’t settle for amorphous pledges but demand specific action from candidates that can lower premiums and keep companies from ruthlessly dropping them.

The surest way for the candidates to show they’ll take that action is to say they’ll sign two bills that actually have passed the House, and that could make it to the next president’s desk if the Senate also signs off on them.

The Klein-Mahoney bill would allow states like Florida with a government-sponsored insurance fund to voluntarily bundle their catastrophe risk. Backed by private markets, the fund could issue loans to states, reduce the insurance industry’s risk and usher in more reasonably-priced policies for homeowners. State reforms largely have failed to do that.

The Gene Taylor bill would allow homeowners who get flood insurance through the federal government to also purchase wind policies from Washington. That’s needed because companies too often after hurricanes have determined that flooding, not wind, damaged homes. That finding allows them to pocket premiums and make Washington disproportionately pay claims.

Together, the bills would bring fairness and stability to states’ property-insurance markets. Together, they’re the furthest Washington has come in years toward making insurers act more responsibly.

Any candidate serious about providing relief should get behind them. Hillary Clinton is co-sponsoring Klein-Mahoney in the Senate. Rudolph Giuliani says he’d sign Klein-Mahoney. John Edwards likes Klein-Mahoney. John McCain, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee offer qualified support for either a regional or national catastrophe fund. But none, Barack Obama included, has told us he or she would sign both bills. Homeowners should demand nothing less of them.