EDITORIAL: Straight to the point
Jun 3, 2008
Miami Herald–June 3, 2008
• VETO WAS RIGHT
Gov. Charlie Crist made the right move in vetoing a provision in an insurance bill that would have raided the financial reserve of Florida’s public-insurance company. The bill signed by the governor enhances protections for homeowners and freezes rates on Citizens Property Insurance.
The vetoed provision would have taken $250 million from Citizens’ reserves to pay damage claims, diverting the money into a pool to help start-up insurance companies. We agree that the state needs more insurance companies with solid financing, but the money in Citizens’ reserves should be used for its intended purpose — to pay the claims of policyholders.
As signed by the governor, the bill requires insurance companies to pay off the undisputed portion of claims within 90 days, and it increases penalties for companies that violate the state’s insurance code. The governor and Legislature deserve a vote of thanks for approving these consumer-friendly measures.
• FIGHTING BIAS
Bravo to Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty for his principled fight against auto insurers who rely on credit histories to set rates. Insurers use the information to charge higher rates or even deny coverage to persons with poor credit histories. Mr. McCarty and state regulators believe the practice is discriminatory and want insurers to stop it.
A state administrative judge is expected to rule on the issue next month. A few states, including California, Hawaii, Maryland and Massachusetts, already limit or ban the practice.
In case of an adverse ruling, regulators have a second option. Beginning Oct. 1, the Office of Insurance Regulation will deny rate hikes to auto insurers who can’t show that their ”scoring” formulas do not discriminate against blacks, Hispanics, young people or the elderly. It is refreshing to see state regulators stand up for the rights of Florida’s less fortunate consumers.
• GOOD TEST VIBES
South Florida students kept up the good work this year, and they have the test results to prove it. Students continued to outperform their peers nationally on the Stanford Achievement Test.
This is the third consecutive year in which students in Miami-Dade and Broward counties surpassed the national median in reading and math skills. Such steady progress indicates that students, teachers, administrators and parents are headed in the right direction. School officials have their fingers crossed that these test scores bode well for FCAT results, which have yet to be released.
There was some slippage in third- and fourth-grade math performance. However, this year’s broader gains on the exam attest to progress.
Congratulations to all.