FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Today the Florida Association for Insurance Reform (FAIR) issued a letter to the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Steve Crisafulli and the President of the Florida Senate Andy Gardiner; to express the organization’s disapproval of Governor Scott’s veto of HB 1087: Operations of the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.
This veto highlights the disconnect by the Governor’s office on the issue of transitioning policy holders from Citizens to the private market and what HB 1087 is designed to solve. FAIR believes that the elements of the bill about which the Governor took issue were designed not to impede depopulation but to enhance it, and is calling on House and Senate leadership to take action to override this veto.
Despite the considerable success in reducing the number of homeowner policies managed by Citizens, the take-out process was not without problems. An advisory committee, representing consumers, agents, and industry representatives, was formed by Citizens to develop recommendations for improving the process. There was strong consensus on what changes were needed; most of these will be implemented without the need for statutory changes. But two of the most important changes did require amending the statute: eliminating confusion by limiting take-out offers to two per year, and allowing policy holders to return to Citizens within 36 months if their new carrier significantly increases rates. The latter provision reflects the exact language that is contained in the recently passed clearinghouse statute.
In his letter to the legislative leaders, FAIR’s President, Jay Neal, stated, “There is broad consensus that removing policies from Citizens into the private market is good policy. We have consistently supported policies to do just that, including the changes made in HB 1087. Florida insurance consumers enjoy robust private market competition and competitive pricing. The soft reinsurance market has allowed regulators and rating agencies to require unprecedented levels of protection against CAT risk while still building increasing surpluses. Private rate payers get better service, better coverage, and stronger consumer protections if they have a claims dispute”.
It is important to note that the Bill was vetoed by Governor Scott despite having passed unanimously in both Houses. That every member of the Florida House and Senate supported this bill is a testament to how hard the bill sponsors worked to achieve consensus and earn support. “This demonstration of bipartisan collaboration deserves the respect and deference it has earned,” affirmed Mr. Neal.
The Association will call upon its membership and stakeholders from the insurance industry, consumer groups and individual consumers as well as the media to drive support for this initiative.