While Tropical Storm Debby continues churning in the Gulf, Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott and Florida Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President David Hart discuss whether Florida is storm ready in the latest edition of The Florida Chamber's Bottom Line.
"We're not storm ready. We've been very fortunate in Florida that we haven't had a major hurricane in six year, but hope is not a strategy and I'm afraid that's where we are right now," said the Florida Chamber's David Hart. "Citizens is the largest insurer in the state and the ninth largest in the country and the rates are not actuarially sound. It's really not fair for all the other policy holders to have to deal with a large assessment to cover Citizens should there be a catastrophic loss."
To secure Florida's future, the Florida Chamber has long-supported reforming Citizens and the Cat Fund. While lawmakers have taken steps to right-size Citizens and begin returning it back to its intended role as insurer of last resort, additional changes to both government entities will help eliminate hurricane tax assessments that pose serious financial threats to homeowners, businesses, renters, charities, churches and charitable organizations.
Important insurance reform legislation that would have helped stabilize the Cat Fund with sensible and modest increases failed earlier this year because of negative public perception. According to Hart, in reality, those proposed increases were so minor that they would have actually saved Floridians over time when compared to the hurricane tax assessments that Floridians may be stuck with for as long as 30 years.
"I think we need to step back and make sure we do have a good strategy and plan," Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott said about additional reforms. "We need to make sure we've thought this through because there are so many working parts. I would like to see a comprehensive strategy and plan to address our homeowners' market place to bring it back to a vibrant and competitive free market system."