Florida Legislature Must Face Homeowner Insurance Debacle
Two months ago, I was forced cancel my windstorm insurance due to the high deductions, meager coverage and exorbitant cost. For the past four years, the insurance lobby has run wild in their insatiable demand for bigger profits for insurance companies already flush with cash.
The single most important issue facing this legislative session is providing adequate and reasonably priced insurance for Florida homeowners. The Citizens Property Insurance Company has proved to be a scandal-ridden and mismanaged corporate entity and can no longer be trusted to represent its policyholders in good faith.
Without access to affordable insurance, any resurgence in the housing market will be severely curtailed. With some of the highest fees of any Southern state for everything from auto tags to toll roads, Florida is becoming less and less a desirable place to retire. Over the years the only thing Florida had to sell was sunshine and ocean beaches. Now, even those commodities are being priced out of reach for the average homeowner or retiree.
The only way to provide windstorm insurance at a reasonable cost is to treat it in the way flood insurance is handled, on a federal level. As the residents of New Jersey and New York found to their dismay, hurricanes are not limited to Florida and the Gulf states.
Bribing the private insurers, in the form of subsidies, to return to Florida will do nothing to lower premium costs. As long as there is such an anti-consumer bias in Tallahassee, the interests of the homeowners will continue to be ignored. The insurance problem will do more to destroy the quality of life and economic well-being of Floridians than any other single issue.
Richard McCormick is a native Miamian whose mother came to the city in 1898. He is a retired Army Reserve colonel and has practiced as a veterinarian in Miami-Dade for 45 years.