Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Not in God's Hands

"We're in the hands of the state legislature and God, but at the moment, the state legislature has more to say than God."
-- Ed Koch

Paige St. John has the story.

The good news:
Coastal residents won a round and their insurers lost one on Monday as a House property insurance bill took a twist.

The State Administration Appropriations Committee removed controversial language allowing windstorm insurers to duck much of the cost when a home is destroyed by storm surge.

The surprise amendment came from Rep. Julio Robaina, R-Miami, who said the clause could prevent storm victims from rebuilding.

"Let these constituents rebuild. Let's get this done," Robaina said.
* * *
The bad news:
... House Insurance Chairman Dennis Ross... promised he is still working behind the scenes to negotiate a more palatable solution.

Robaina said industry lobbyists are gathering with Ross' staff today to try to undo his amendment.

* * *
The insurance industry is fighting both in the courts and Legislature to undo a 2004 judicial ruling that requires them to pay policy limits when a home is destroyed, even when part of the destruction is caused by an excluded peril. It affects thousands of hurricane victims, especially in the Panhandle.

Trial attorneys from Pensacola were happy with Monday's victory. Bobby Loehr, an attorney with Levin, Papantonio Law Firm in Pensacola, appeared before the House committee Monday. He said Ross' bill, left as it was, would hurt thousands of Panhandle residents.
And more news to come:
* * *
The Senate's property insurance bill not only still contains a perils clause, it attempts to apply it to 2004 hurricane victims.

The clause also could be amended back into the House bill. It has one more committee hearing this week before moving to the floor for further tinkering.

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