PCI Urges Measured Legislative Response During Upcoming Special Fla. Session

October 28, 2004

The best way for the Florida legislature to respond to this year’s devastating hurricane season is to take a thoughtful and rational approach when considering measures to improve the current well-designed strategy for handling catastrophic losses, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).

Lawmakers are in the process of developing various proposals for the special legislative session anticipated to begin in mid-December that will address complex issues involving homeowners insurance and the hurricane catastrophe fund. Earlier this week, Gov. Jeb Bush announced two proposals that would reportedly help those who face multiple deductibles for homes damaged by more than one storm and provide property tax relief for those whose homes were severely damaged.

“The insurance industry is paying billions of dollars to help Floridians get their lives back in order,” said William Stander, regional manager for PCI. “While the events of this season are unprecedented, we are not experiencing the market exodus and availability and affordability crisis that occurred after Hurricane Andrew. The difference comes down to careful planning, and the legislative compromises hammered out over the last decade. By working together, public policymakers and insurers have crafted a system that did not break even under the most severe pressure. Now we need to work together again to ensure that any changes preserve market competition and benefit consumer.”

The insurance marketplace reportedly in Florida is remarkably stable following the unprecedented occurrence of four hurricanes and one tropical storm causing more that $20 billion in damage and moe than 2 million claims. Together these events affected 64 of the state’s 67 counties and collectively are the most costly series of natural disasters in the nation’s history.

Insurers responded this hurricane season by bringing 15,000 adjusters from around the country into the state to handle claims, providing homeowners and businesses with billions of dollars in the recovery effort, and paying billions more to complete the job. In addition insurance companies have donated millions of dollars to organizations such as the Red Cross to aid in the recovery effort.

“We look forward to working with public policymakers in preparation for the special legislative session. However, the focus should be on rebuilding Florida, strengthening the state’s building codes to lessen the amount of damage and ensuring that insurance remains affordable and available. Old-style command and control governmental edicts will only cause more problems than they solve. Deductibles and premiums must be based on the risk that is present with the goal of keeping coverage available and prices reasonable,” said Stander.

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