Monday, November 27, 2006

Insurance Reform Takes A Holiday

As Paige St. John reported last week, the passion for insurance reform which Florida legislators showed on the campaign trail suddenly has cooled. There will be no special session to stem the tide of rising rates, cancellations, and unconscionable foot-dragging on hurricane claims.

What is less evident at the moment is that once the legislature convenes "on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March every year" true reform will become even more difficult. In the general session, which lasts only 60 days, other issues will compete with insurance reform.

Multiple reform proposals will be sent to multiple committees. Press coverage will be more difficult as legislators play whack-a-mole with competing insurance proposals. Insurance industry lobbyists, however, will be working the hallways and back rooms full-time. It'll be more difficult for the public to keep tabs on the issue than it would have been if a special session had been called and therefore easier for your local legislators to camouflage their own votes.

That's the real reason reform advocates like Insurance Reform Now! are disappointed with Jeb Bush's refusal to call a special session to concentrate on the insurance crisis. A special session would have trained an undiluted spotlight on the issue. As Sherri Hudson of Brevard County is quoted saying--
"No, this can't wait. We needed it yesterday."
Hudson's group, which is heavily weighted toward real estate and local insurance agent interests hurt by skyrocketing property insurance rates, has outlined a wide-ranging series of proposals they hope will be considered. On close inspection, the list looks like a bad smorgasbord of conflicting ideological tastes. But some of the more intriguing proposals include a moratorium on rate increases, anti-cherry picking rules, an end to the phony corporate-subsidiary dodge so many corporations use to hide profits and emphasize losses, and reform of the state-owned Citizens Property Insurance Company.

Until the legislature comes to accept that adequate and affordable hurricane insurance is a public necessity every bit as important to the public weal and the Florida economy as police protection, roads, schools, and -- dare we say it? -- multi-million dollar beach renourishment projects, it's unlikely the insurance crisis will be resolved.


pissed off patricia said...

sadly, I never believed anything would be done. Too many beneifits to big business to mess it up by being fair to us.

Anonymous said...

It was apparent nothing would be done about insurance reform if Crist was elected gov. Insurance companys made sure of that by giving at least 5 million to his election campaign. Voters need to learn to follow the money.

Anonymous said...

As a Pensacola Real Estate agent I can definitely say the insurance crisis here in Florida is is definitely have a chilling affect on home real estate market values. Many baby boomers that had planned to buy here have put their plans on hold. I'm sure this will not stop all potential buyers but it is stopping those that have limited resources.