Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Slapped in the Face - Again

Slap us once, shame on you. Slap us twice, shame on us.

Florida consumers ought to be feeling a lot like an abused spouse. The serial abuser is the state legislature, this time aided and abetted by Governor Jeb Bush.

Today's PNJ is carrying Paige St. John's latest report about how Florida has shut out the consumer's voice once again when insurance policies are up for discussion. (Free web access to her article will continue for some time at the Ft. Myers News-Press.)

Here's the essence of it:
Consumers don't have a seat on a legislative panel that meets today to take up the problem of helping Floridians get hurricane insurance.

Task force members named this week include some of the loudest voices in Florida for higher premiums, exemptions to wind-resistant building codes, and increased reliance on policyholders to cover insurers' claims after catastrophic storms.

The 12-member Task Force on Long-Term Solutions for Florida's Hurricane Insurance Market includes no consumers.

* * *
The task force was ordered by the Legislature last spring to address issues lingering from the 2004 hurricanes. It is required specifically to look at the thousands of policies major insurers are now turning away, forcing more homeowners into the state-run Citizens Property Insurance.

The legislation requires Gov. Jeb Bush's three appointments to include a voice for "insurance consumers." In that slot, Bush named the president of an insurance-created group that advocates storm shutters and other home-disaster preparation but is silent on controversial matters like rates.

This isn't the first time ordinary consumers have been given the back of the hand by one of Florida's top elected leaders. Last December, Tom Gallagher, the second most powerful Republican official in Florida, appointed a 13-member "Task Force on Policyholder Services and Relations to Citizens Property Insurance." It included everyone but an ordinary consumer.

As with a battered spouse we want to ask, 'Why do these brutes treat consumers like dirt?' But we should be asking, 'How much longer are we going to put up with this abuse?'


Anonymous said...

We deserve what we get. The slavish loyalty of the panhandle to the Republican party leaves us all prey to the moneyed power brokers who run government by appointment. There is no opposition party in the panhandle. A one party "democracy" is no democracy at all.

Anonymous said...

There is not much of an opposition party anywhere in Florida.... Or America, for that matter.