OPINION: Allstate committed to finding solutions for state’s consumers

Feb 19, 2008

Palm Beach Post–Feb. 19, 2008

Recent events have given us cause to reflect on the commitment Allstate and Allstate Floridian have in finding solutions to the property insurance problems we all face. With this in mind, we must never lose sight of the real culprit behind these difficult times.

The only names deserving blame for the problems we face are Charley, Ivan, Wilma and the like. The winds from two years of unprecedented hurricanes left more than physical destruction in their path. Along with the billions of dollars in economic losses, lives were destroyed and the property insurance market was thrown into a state of flux. The 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons wreaked havoc on Florida and caused nearly $40 billion in insured losses. Unfortunately, the challenges in the property insurance market continue. Scientists agree that Florida is at an increased risk for large-scale storms.

We have worked tirelessly not only to live up to a proud history of honoring our promise to our customers but to develop meaningful solutions to the crisis. To underscore our commitment, we recently undertook a consumer education campaign to tell the story of how we got here and what it will take to move forward. A real solution includes a comprehensive national catastrophe plan, adequately funding Citizens Property Insurance Corp. reserves and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund to handle the impact of a major storm, allowing insurance companies to charge appropriate premiums for those in high-risk areas, and increasing competition by allowing a fair rate of return for insurance companies.

The stakes are high – according to the Insurance Information Institute, a Category 5 storm hitting Miami could cost more than $50 billion – and financial facts cannot be ignored. Over the past four years, Allstate Floridian paid out more in claims and expenses than it collected in premium payments, yet some are pressuring our company to lower rates further, despite a recent rate cut of 14 percent. Insurers must have the means to meet our commitment to our customers.

We applaud state leaders for their efforts to ensure that consumers can receive adequate insurance protection. We also are happy to see that they recognize the challenges insurers face in meeting our customers’ needs. We look forward to continuing to work together to find solutions to the state’s broken property insurance market.

ADAM R. SHORES, Corporate Relations

Allstate Insurance Co.

St. Petersburg