Citizens Insurance seeks
By Louise Bolger
SUN STAFF WRITER
Some weeks its just better to read
a bad novel or watch American Idol rather than pay attention
to the news.
Were being told to stock up for a possible bird flu
pandemic at the same time were told to stock up for
the pending hurricane season. And the worst news of the week
for Florida homeowners is another rate hike on insurance premiums
from Citizens Insurance.
As too many of us already know, Citizens is the insurer of
last resort in Florida. It is mandated to cover you after
your other insurance company has dropped you because it has
deemed your property too risky to cover.
What Citizens is asking for now is another increase which
would constitute its third this year. This is coming at the
same time it is just starting to collect on the second increase
that went into effect previously.
The reason for this as stated by the insurance commissioner,
is to keep Citizens rates higher than any other in the
state, as required by law, in order to encourage private insurers
to write insurance in Florida.
If you are a Florida homeowner who still has private insurance,
consider yourself lucky not to be part of Citizens and its
triple rate increase. However, all Florida homeowners are
being assessed to help cover Citizens short fall and
reduce its debt whether they are covered by Citizens or not.
The only light on the horizon comes from the Florida House
of Representatives. Rep. Joe Negron proposed an amendment
that would allocate $920 million dollars from the states
general fund to offset the deficit that is currently being
carried by Citizens. The state Senate also proposed a similar
bill with somewhat lower funds allocated.
Keep in mind these funds, if approved, would only apply to
the current deficit and do virtually nothing for future insurance
premiums for Citizens customers. The proposed bill also
allows private insurers to raise rates more easily in order
to give them an incentive to write insurance in Florida.
In addition, in an effort to reduce future deficits, the bill
suggests that some properties, for instance those that would
cost more than $1 million to rebuild, either be charged higher
rates, or be removed from Citizens coverage entirely.
You dont have to be a rocket scientist to figure out
how many homes on Anna Maria have the potential of falling
into this category.
How much affect this latest insurance issue will have on sales
in coastal areas is anyones guess. For sure there will
be some buyers who just cant afford the insurance and
will walk away from homes they might have otherwise considered,
but there are probably plenty buyers left who will just consider
it part of the price of living in paradise.
Well, thats the good news/bad news for this week. Unfortunately,
its mostly bad. I know how to stock up for insurance
premium increases, but my greatest fear is that stocking up
for the bird flu will be different than stocking up for hurricanes.
Just how many cans of Dinty Moore are there in the world?