EDITORIAL: Our view: Fleeced again

Mar 26, 2008

Florida Today–Mar. 26, 2008

Get ready to pay for state bailout if a big hurricane rolls through Florida this year

You don’t have to tell Florida residents they’re getting the shaft from insurance companies on their homeowner policies for hurricane coverage.

But with the start of hurricane season two months away, get ready for this:

Paying even bigger bills to bail out the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund if a major storm causes massive damage.

House Insurance Committee chairman Don Brown, R-DeFuniak Springs, reminded the public of that Monday when he said Citizens is in a precarious financial situation because of mandated rate freezes, leaving consumers holding the bag to cover significant losses through additional charges.

That wouldn’t be the case if lawmakers hadn’t increased the fund’s risk last year to get insurers to significantly cut rates, a move that largely failed.

The latest proof comes from financial analyst Fitch Ratings, which in a Monday report said “in spite of reform efforts enacted by the state of Florida in 2007 to improve the availability and affordability of homeowners insurance in the state, the Florida homeowners market continues to be unstable.”

That’s putting it mildly.

State officials are looking at ways to reduce the Citizens’ risk, but the result would be another policy rate hike for consumers.

No matter how look at it you’re stuck with the bill, and you can thank lawmakers and Big Insurance for the tab.