Friday, March 26, 2010

33% RATE INCREASE IN PROPERTY INSURANCE?

Remember "Drop like a Rock"?

Our Governor, Charlie Crist promised, not so long ago, that Florida property taxes and insurances would get such a wonderful cut that real estate in our state would receive an incredible boost.

Now, whoever you think are your friends in Florida Congress, read the news, and read my comments below:


From The Sun Sentinel - March 25, 2010

Senate panel passes bill allowing major home insurance rate hikes

The Senate's insurance committee passed a bill Wednesday that would essentially allow home insurance rates to rise by a statewide average of up to 33 percent in the next three years. That means premiums in South Florida could rise by more than that. "Couple that with the 10 percent annual increase passed by this committee last week, and you have huge rate increases," said Bill Newton, executive director of the Florida Consumer Action Network who spoke in opposition to the bill along with Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Sean Shaw. Gov. Charlie Crist also made an appearance to ask lawmakers not to vote for the bill.

The bill would essentially allow automatic average statewide rate hikes of up to 5 percent the first year, 10 percent the second year and 15 percent the third year. Policyholders' premiums can increase by more or less than the statewide average rate. Supporters say the bill is needed to strengthen Florida's property insurance market, draw more insurers to the state and improve companies' ability to pay claims if a major hurricane strikes. Opponents say rates already went up in South Florida after the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes and consumers can't afford additional increases. After heated debate, the committee passed the bill, SB 876, by a 6 to 4 vote. Voting for it were Minority Leader Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee and Senators J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, and Garrett Richter, R-Naples. Voting against it were Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey and Senators Ronda Storms, R-Brandon, Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, and Joe Negron, R-Jupiter.

Newton said he's "disturbed" that all the Democrats on the committee voted for the bill and other insurance proposals. The House insurance committee passed its version of the bill, HB 447, last week. To weigh in on this bill or others, you can find your legislators on the state's Web site.

In all truth, our Governor is not the culprit.

Perhaps his Republican friends in Tallahassee?

Oops, not so fast: Have you noticed how many Democrats have also voted for this new attack on the beleaguered homeowner in this state?

Counties, Cities, and now the State: nobody seems to understand that we are living the most trouble times in many decades. Poverty in Florida is one of the worse in the whole US. Foreclosures, Jobless claims, Deficits, are our daily bread.

But our politicians do not quite understand the necessity of downsizing. Downsizing doesn't necessarily mean reducing essential services, like education and health. It means reducing the waste, reducing luxurious offices, parties, travel expenses, level and sub-levels of unnecessary and blown up bureaucracy. Things must change because we cannot afford our and "their" lifestyle anymore. As we are forced to adjust our expenses in face of the recession and economic necessities, so must our government change their spending habits.

In the same line of action, our government must take definite steps to rein in insurance companies. Their non-ending greediness must be contained, least one of these days some genius comes up with a reform , a "public option", a "single-payer-system" or something similar to the health reform that has shaken our political landscape, only that next time it could be applicable to property and auto insurance.

Insurance companies are a big part of the problem. Unbridled and uncontrolled, they lobby and mandate at will their rules on us, as well as our elected officers.

It is evident that the consumer is powerless against their voracity . At least if he wants to buy a car, get a mortgage, or obtain health care. High rates of insurance are a large factor in denying the access to homeownership to many citizens, as are high property tax rates.

Five years since we had a major hurricane, no losses for the insurers, but still paid our premiums. We already had our rates raised after Katrina.

So what exactly happened that forced these insurance companies to pump up again their rate at this shameful levels? And how could they convince our legislators?

Without being a specialist in actuarial sciences and risks calculations, my bet is that they do it simply because they can. And they will keep doing it unless you and me do something about it.

Henry B. Nathan is a Florida Realtor at United Realty Group Inc.
Visit my website: http://www.condo-southflorida.com
where you can search for Aventura Condos, Florida Condos, Sunny Isles Condos,
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