Miami Herald Letter: Don’t cut discounts for windstorm mitigation

Aug 31, 2009

Published in the Miami Herald on August 30, 2009:

Hands off on windstorm discounts!

In the past five years, thousands of Floridians, including hundreds in Palmetto Bay, have spent a lot of money to protect their homes against hurricane damage.

To encourage homeowners to make these improvements, Florida required insurers to offer significant insurance premium discounts for items such as hurricane shutters, stronger garage doors, and other improvements

The windstorm mitigation discount program was a huge success — so much so that insurance companies are complaining the discounts are costing them too much money and they want the discounts reduced.

Tallahassee insurance regulators are now holding public hearings where insurance companies will make their case for lowering the windstorm mitigation discounts. It comes down to this: Insurance companies want the discounts reduced because the program’s success is hurting their bottom line.

After so many homeowners have spent substantial sums to reduce the potential for hurricane damage, insurers want to significantly reduce their reward. That would be wrong.

It is sound public policy to reward homeowners for making the investment. Deep cuts to windstorm mitigation discounts would send the wrong message. A better alternative is to impose a surcharge on insurance policies of those homeowners who chose not to fortify and improve their properties.

The state should not unfairly penalize homeowners for doing the right thing — especially since the state encouraged us to protect our homes in the first place!