Senator Mike Fasano: Get on the bus

Aug 25, 2011

The following article was published in the Citrus County Chronicle on August 25, 2011:

Fasano:  Get on the bus

County homeowners are urged to take an interest in an insurer’s proposed rate increases for sinkholes even if their coverage is not with that carrier and they have no sinkholes.

Last week, people rallied in Lecanto to oppose premium hikes of as much as 2,000 percent or more by Citizens Property Insurance Corporation for sinkhole coverage.

“We had a good response from people,” said Kevin Sweeney, aide to state Sen. Charles Dean, R-Inverness, who worked to organize this event and one in Live Oak, part of an effort across the state to bring the proposed rate increase to the attention of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

Legislation passed earlier this year lifted a longstanding requirement for insurers to offer sinkhole insurance in response to a rising number of sinkhole claims, many of which were bogus. Government-backed Citizens would be compelled to provide sinkhole plans as a resort. Citizens, therefore, needed to raise rates.
Sweeney said Dean was concerned that the legislation would open the doors to all insurers to raise rates on all coverage.

“The intent was to stop bogus sinkhole claims,” Sweeney said. “But the senator doesn’t want insurers taking the provisions in the bill to drive up premiums by as much as 2,000 percent.”

The statewide average increase will be 429 percent.

Sweeney said the rallies worked because the state insurance regulators agreed to conduct a public hearing.

Now legislators ask the public to attend the public hearing.

State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who represents part of Citrus County, is working with Policyholders of Florida to coordinate bus service to the event.
“Recognizing that many people may not have the ability to drive to the hearing, or would rather not drive after dark, we are securing buses to bring people down to Tampa so they can participate,” Fasano said.

The hearing will be the final opportunity for the public to weigh in on the rate increase application. The Office of Insurance Regulation will make its decision on the potential premium hikes in the days immediately following the hearing.

“I encourage everyone who is interested in attending to call my office and sign up,” Fasano said. “Too many people will be hurt if these rates are approved. I won’t stand for a single person to lose their home if these rate hikes force them out on the street. We need to stand strong as a community and show the Office of Insurance Regulation that the rate hikes being requested by Citizens won’t be tolerated. “

To secure a seat on a bus, call office at (727) 848-5885. Once the number of riders is tallied, pickup locations and times will be identified and riders will be notified regarding trip details.

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