As Florida's insurance industry and lawmakers gear up for the coming legislative session, a trade association for risk managers is asking for more sweeping reform. The Risk and Insurance Management Society, Inc. wants the federal government to promulgate uniform, national regulations for commercial insurance.
There's a silly ad on television right now, for a smart phone. The phone is reading messages to Santa (Mrs. Claus writes to stay away from the cookies, for example), ending with a summary of Santa's schedule. "You have 3.7 billion appointments today," the electronic voice croons.
Every year, an untold number of Florida's families wonders what would happen if a big storm rolled in on Christmas Eve and Santa couldn't make it. Rudolph can only get so far with the shiny nose thing. In hail and sleet and even a major wind storm, Santa could be grounded -- or worse, he could be in an accident along the flyway or on the slippery roof of someone's house.
We have been talking about the proposals that officials of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. presented to a panel of lawmakers at the specific request of Florida Gov. Rick Scott. The insurance company has been under fire for some time, with the governor and others sounding the alarm about the company's financial stability and its rate of growth. Citizens was designed to be the insurer of last resort in the state, but it now boasts 1.5 million policyholders and $500 billion or more in exposure.
Back in November, Florida Gov. Rick Scott asked Citizens Property Insurance Co. to come up with a plan that would help the company stay afloat. The state-backed company has long struggled with financial viability, and lawmakers are beginning to wonder aloud if the problem can't be traced to business practices rather than legislative and regulatory limitations.
We are continuing our discussion of proposals presented to Florida's governor and other lawmakers by Citizens Property Insurance Co. The governor directed the insurer several weeks ago to devise a plan that would improve its viability -- and not just any plan, but a plan that did not involve legislative action.
MALLORY L. GOLD received her B.S. degree in 2007 from Pennsylvania State University and her J.D. (summa cum laude; Order of the Coif) from the University of Miami School of Law in 2011. While in law school, Ms. Gold served as an editor of the University of Miami Law Review, a Dean's Fellow in Contracts, Civil Procedure, and Constitutional Law, and a judicial intern for the Honorable Linda Ann Wells, Third District Court of Appeal. Ms. Gold concentrates her practice in the areas of insurance coverage and bad faith litigation.
The chairman of the board of Citizens Property Insurance Co., Florida's state-backed insurer, spoke to a roomful of state officials earlier this week. He brought with him 31 new proposals for steps the over-burdened insurance company can take to reduce its exposure, but he also brought the same message the company has delivered throughout the process: Not much will change without a serious overhaul of public policy.
We are continuing our discussion of a study scheduled to be published in January. The researcher, a law school professor, looked at policies from the top 10 insurance groups in six states. (Florida was not one of them.) What he found was that some of the big insurance companies use policy language that is "systematically less generous" than the language used in the once-standard Insurance Services Office policy.
Most Florida homeowners are probably more familiar than they want to be with shopping for insurance. Indeed, in this state, a homeowner may just be grateful that he has a choice. It's a safe bet that the choice comes down to price, too -- premium and deductible, especially in a tight market, tend to outweigh the fine print of the insurance policy. It's just the standard stuff you find in homeowner policies, right?