THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA: McCarty presents Legislative priorities

Mar 11, 2009

Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty presented his bosses on Tuesday with his legislative priorities for the 2009 session.

McCarty told Gov. Charlie Crist and members of the Cabinet that the top issues that his department plans to back include legislation that would ban the use of certain criteria in determining insurance rates, including profession, education and credit score. McCarty contends that such devices have historically discriminated against blacks and Hispanics and those with a limited credit history.

Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson questioned McCarty on whether the same problems with creditworthiness that have plagued the home-lending market could affect the insurance industry if the bills (HB 683, SB 1524) become law. But McCarty defended the proposed legislation – which is sponsored by Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico and Rep. Priscilla Taylor, D-West Palm Beach – by saying it is in place in California and has not affected the market there. 

McCarty said people should not have their insurance rates changed based on circumstances beyond their control.Other bills backed by the Office of Insurance Regulation deal with title insurance rates, and stranger-originated life insurance.

The office also supports legislation that would block private insurers from placing wind-only coverage for homes in Citizens Property Insurance Corporation while writing the rest of the homeowner coverage. But McCarty’s list of legislative priorities does not include any recommendations on whether other changes should be made to Citizens or whether the size of the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund should be scaled back.

“My role and responsibility is to enforce the laws written on the books,” McCarty said. “It’s up to the Florida Legislature in their infinite wisdom to make determinations of public policy and we’ll be happy to provide any guidance with the potential consequences of those decisions.”