Sunday, March 27, 2011

Messaging by Reform Opponents Is Challenge for Florida P&C Industry

Florida property and casualty (P&C) reform proponents continue to face challenges, including strong messaging from trial attorneys. The attorneys' tools include former Insurance Consumer Advocate (ICA) Sean Shaw and a new website

Opponents of P&C insurance reform used a press conference last week to roll out their assertion that “big insurance giveaways” and “rate hike approvals” are “sailing through the Florida Legislature.”

In rebuttal, the Florida Insurance Council (the state’s largest insurance trade association) pointed out that former ICA Sean Shaw “is now working for one of the largest sinkhole litigation firms in Florida and is no longer a disinterested consumer advocate.”  And as noted by the Council, the property reform bills are intended to: (1) attack the major factors behind property insurance rate increases and recent insurer insolvencies, and (2) help insurers build surplus during the years without hurricanes in Florida.

The trial attorneys' message, although biased, is not unappealing. At their press conference and website, reform opponents put the following spin on pending bills:
  • Citizens rates: S 1714/H 1243 - would allow Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to raise its rates by as much as 25% a year, and would prohibit customers from seeking assistance from a public adjuster.
  • Report Card. H 4115/S 1462 - would strip the Insurance Consumer Advocate of the ability to issue grades to residential property insurance companies.
  • Rate deregulation. H 885/S 1330 - would deregulate insurance rates, allowing rate hikes by as much as 30% a year without approval from the Office of Insurance Regulation.
  • Sinkhole claims. H 803/S 408 - would eliminate the requirements for sinkhole coverage, shorten the time period for claim filing, and reduce up front money from claims.
  • Civil Remedies. H 1187/S 1592 - would limit consumers' ability to bring civil actions against insurers.
And reform opponents must have run out of space, because they forgot to mention pending proposals to reform auto insurance.

For more from the reform opponents, go to the following links: Policy Holders of Florida and Fasano, Kriseman outraged over bills that deregulate Florida insurance industry.

And for worthy counterpoints from the insurance industry perspective, see Lynne McChristian's blog Straight Talk, including Property insurance rhetoric vs. truth and How consumers benefit from a strong Florida insurance market.

This summary was prepared by Perry Cone and posted at

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