Yesterday, an all-day meeting of the "Property and Casualty Insurance Reform Committee" was held in Largo. Lots and lots and lots of suggestions, but absolutely no answers. From the St. Pete Times...
'Gloria N. Ellinwood thinks insurance companies should be barred from creating spinoffs that serve only Florida. Ginny Stevans doesn't like how insurers can buy reinsurance from their parent company. Debby Zolobkowski says it's unfair that her premium can be tied to her credit rating.'
'Of those at the meeting - business people, retirees, politicians, and the committee members - no one denied Florida's insurance situation needs fixing. But few could agree on the best way to repair it.'
'When committee member Frank Kowalski said homeowners can't expect to qualify for certain coverage if they don't replace their roof every 10 years or so, Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings replied, "The roof is supposed to last as long as the house."'
'"For retirees earning $13,000 to $20,000, mitigation won't work." said Ginny Stevans from "Home-owners Against Citizens".'
'Snowbirds and residents of manufactured or mobile homes complained that the My Safe Florida Home program is a raw deal. The program, which kicked off in August, offers matching grants up to $5,000 for improvements that strengthen a house against storms. But the grants are available only to site-built homes with homestead exemptions.'
'Steve Burgess, the state's insurance consumer advocate, questioned the potential conflicts of interest posed by his office's position under the authority of the chief financial officer. He said his office might function better under the Cabinet, "although that perhaps would generate its own set of criticisms," he acknowledged.'
'"It's pretty easy to go out and say, 'Hey, this rate's too high, don't allow it,' " said state Sen. J.D. Alexander. But doing that, he said, will chase insurers out of Florida.'
'Three hours into the meeting, committee member Barbara Weese didn't seem convinced problems were being solved. The point of the committee, said the retired schoolteacher, isn't just to make insurers more accountable, but to make insurance more affordable. "The point we're missing," she said, "is something has to be done to get insurance to the people."'
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