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Florida's Insurance Consumer Advocate Westcott Urges Investment in Mitigation as Defense Against Assessment Risk

Press Release

Jan. 23, 2013

850-413-5923

TALLAHASSEE –Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Smith Westcott urged lawmakers during the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee meeting today that now is the time to start mitigating homes along Florida’s coastline and reduce the financial risk Florida’s insurance consumers currently face every hurricane season.   

“We have been treating the symptoms by raising rates and reducing coverage and have not been addressing the cause of our state’s real problem – a near tripling of exposure,” Westcott said. “Every major study or work group since Hurricane Andrew has emphasized mitigation as the key to reducing our risk, and I believe the time is ripe to make that happen.” 

Noting that nearly 230,000 homes in Citizens Property Insurance Corporation’s coastal account have no hurricane impact opening protection, she said an investment in mitigating those homes would protect all Florida families from the risk of high assessments after a storm by reducing potential losses. The average coastal home is a 1,700 square foot cinder block home.  

The reduction in risk could lead to more private-sector takeouts of Citizens’ policies, further reducing financial risks to Florida insurance consumers.   Westcott said this is critical as the number of homes in the coastal account has not substantially changed, but the state’s exposure – the cost to replace those homes if destroyed –  has approximately tripled. 

Westcott also showed that recent advancements in mitigation products and technology will allow each mitigation dollar spent to go further than ever before.   

Westcott’s presentation is posted at
www.MyFloridaCFO.com/ICA. 

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The Insurance Consumer Advocate is appointed by Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and is committed to finding solutions to insurance issues facing Floridians, calling attention to questionable insurance practices, promoting a viable insurance market responsive to the needs of Florida’s diverse population and assuring that rates are fair and justified.