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Insurance Consumer Advocate

Sha'Ron James

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Mailing: 200 East Gaines St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0308

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Florida Insurance Advocate: In case you forgot, we're screwed


Orlando Sentinel

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott has released a new-and-improved ”assessment calculator” designed to provide a friendly reminder to those of you who purchase insurance that if a catastrophic hurricane strikes, we are totally screwed.

For those of you living in post-2005 homeowner bliss, Florida has three insurance entities that can smack you with assessments if the state is hit by a major storm and the funds are unable to cover claims — the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund (which sells cheap re-insurance to insurance companies), Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (the state-run insurer that has nearly 1.5 million policies) and, the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (they do something else insurance-y).

The online calculator, which you can access here, allows you to enter the annual premium you pay for your home, autos and businesses, and then — like algorithmic magic! — out pops the quantification of the screwing. In my case, I would get hit with a $1,400 assessment by a 1-in-100 year storm, which figures to be about $150 annually. But I live in Tallahassee away from the coast and don’t buy insurance from Citizens, whose policyholders get hit with higher assessments to make up shortfalls within the company. If I were a Citizens policyholder, my total assessment would top $1,900 — or roughly $200 annually.

“In meeting with insurance consumers across the state, it was clear that many Floridians did not recognize the potential for assessments following a storm if Citizens, the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund or the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association does not have the capacity to pay claims,” Westcott said in a statement.

“Educating consumers is an important part of my duty as Consumer Advocate, and I believe this updated tool will serve as a valuable consumer resource going into the 2012 Hurricane Season.”

Thanks for the pep talk!