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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Geller: Put insurance industry under the gun



Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller, agreeing with Gov. Charlie Crist, wants to put insurance industry execs under oath to explain why rates have not dropped as much as some expect.

“Floridians, along with this Legislature, have been patient long enough," Geller said in a statement this afternoon. “For that reason, I urge Senate President Ken Pruitt to convene special Senate hearings into the insurance rates controversy, and to launch those hearings as early as the upcoming special legislative session.

“Top insurance company officials need to appear and testify under oath - through subpoenas if necessary - and know that perjury charges will be brought if their answers are not candid and truthful."

“As we learned during the Senate’s medical malpractice insurance hearings, the stories told under threat of perjury can differ dramatically from those told without fear of sanctions.

“During last January’s special session, top industry representatives specifically told us that the reasons for the soaring property insurance rates in Florida were the high cost of reinsurance. We solved that problem by expanding the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund (CAT Fund) to provide more inexpensive reinsurance to the industry. Additionally, rates for private reinsurance have also gone down because of our actions. Yet the windstorm rates for Floridians not only have not come down, they appear to be on the rise, along with the insurers’ profits.

“Property owners in Florida and members of this Senate deserve to know why the promises received from the insurance industry of lower rates in exchange for that additional reinsurance have not been kept. They need to hear first hand whether the explanations for their failure to lower rates are the truth or just additional delay tactics to boost their bottom line.”

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 12:56pm]


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