BY SAM FIELDS
Two years ago Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican legislature deregulated homeowner insurance rates.
If your rates did not take a major jump — something like 50% — you’re the only one.
In an effort to change the subject, the Scott Administration has unholstered its weapon of mass distraction. Instead of the outrageous rates, now all we hear about is uncovering waste at Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. With 1.3 million customers, this state run insurer of last resort is wasting $$$ on high salaries and first class hotels. Praise the Lord, it’s Tricky Ricky, once more into the breach, cleaning things up.
Here’s the truth. Taken all together, Scott and Citizens President Barry Gilway’s best efforts to end the abuses as Citizens amount to chump change — roughly $2 on skyrocketing insurance bills.
The real problems and the real solutions are not politically correct for Republicans and their flunkies at Citizens.
They are unbridled development—particularly on the shorefront—and human driven global climate change. This has meant beach erosion making homes more susceptible to hurricanes. This has meant polluted water, which can damage everything from pipes to the natural barriers to flooding. This has meant the overuse of our water resources, which causes more sinkholes to swallow homes and roads and saltwater intrusion to damage pipes.
All this end up as more insurance claims. That inexorably leads to insurance rates seemingly on steroids
The Republicans don’t accept this simple cause and effect. They view the science as big fraud. It’s part of the GOP’s war on science, which claims climate change, evolution, etc. are the work of pointy-headed liberal charlatans.
As a result, it’s no longer property taxes and mortgages that are driving the middle class from their homes. It’s homeowners insurance.
When I bought my house in 1989 my taxes were $2300 and my homeowner insurance was $900. This year taxes were $3600 and insurance was $4500. That insurance bill includes a couple-a-hundred to subsidize state cleanup…think Citizens.
For some like the folks at Citizens, the solution is to raise rates and spread the cost rather than cure the problem. Instead of justifying the high rates they should be looking at the root problems and demanding environmental reform.
Citizens in 2013 should be acting like the auto-insurance industry. It was the studies and pressure from the insurance industry that brought about safer cars. The safer cars reduced damage to vehicles and passengers…and their payouts for accidents.
Citizens, and the rest of the property insurance industry, should be leading a similar the hue and cry to cure the environmental problems causing their unconscionable rates.
Maybe we should require hurricane insurers to use the Lloyds of London business model where Lloyd’s investors personally guarantee the claims of their customers.
That would be a real capitalist solution to the industry’s reform lethargy.