Consumer Group’s Report Proposes Take-Over of Fla. Wind Coverage

April 10, 2006

New York-based Americans for Insurance Reform has released a report calling for the complete removal of the private sector from the hurricane insurance business in Florida. AIR has called on Florida’s Legislature to establish a privately-run state plan for the hurricane wind portion of homeowners insurance coverage.

Joseph Annotti, senior vice president of public affairs for The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, said that PCI is analyzing the AIR report and will comment after the recommendations have been analyzed.

“At first glance, the report appears to be based on an over-simplified ‘government-knows best’ concept, one that has failed consumers around the world,” Annotti said. “PCI will publish the results of our analysis early next week.”

AIR’s report, “At the Tipping Point: The Homeowner Insurance Mess in Florida and How to Fix It,” was written by J. Robert Hunter, director of Insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, and Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy.

“More and more private carriers have left the state, others are again threatening massive cancellations and prices are through the roof,” according to the report. “Companies have dumped high-risk properties into the state-run ‘insurer of last resort,’ Citizens Property Insurance Corp., and have kept the lower risk business for themselves. Continuing to try to fix the problem by placating the private market, giving in to their demands in a desperate effort to keep them in the state, is a road to continuing disaster.”

The report asks, “Have we reached the tipping point where the reliance on the private sector is no longer warranted? Has the coverage become too little and the prices too high and the instability too great for Florida to continue to rely on the system that is in place? How long can Florida stand to see homeowners’ insurance offer less and less coverage for more and more money, with many people unable to afford premiums and having to live in fear of filing legitimate claims?”

AIR answers these questions by proposing creation of a privately run state insurer for the hurricane wind portion of homeowner’s insurance coverage, with all of the wind business in Florida put in this state plan. Private companies would service the plans, selected by competitive bids. Policyholders would benefit immediately, with huge drops in premiums by the private home insurers, with hurricane wind rates set by fair use of scientific models that would be actuarially sound so that, over time, the program will be self-sustaining. This plan would eliminate both the profit motive, as well as overreaction at times of crisis, lowering prices and assuring both stable prices and coverage.

AIR, a national coalition of public interest organizations that support effective insurance industry reforms to control skyrocketing insurance rates, reduced insurance coverage, arbitrary policy cancellations, mismanagement and other insurance industry abuses, is a project of the Center for Justice & Democracy.

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