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Ruth: Don't hold your breath for property insurance rate cuts

If you are a Florida homeowner you were probably heartened to learn recently that Citizens, the state-run property insurance cartel, had built up a whopping $7 billion surplus.

Even more impressive, Florida's catastrophe fund is in its best financial shape in recent memory. Better yet, the cost of reinsurance is falling and six of the state's 30 major property insurance firms have either had requests to cut rates approved or are about to have pending reductions green-lighted.

So that should mean you, dear beloved property owner, should soon be dancing around the Maypole in delirious delight over having your own insurance rates reduced. Aren't you precious?

What part of fat chance don't you understand?

Aside from Florida's dubious distinction of people shooting people just for the heck of it, as well as the highest per capita production of Justin Bieber mug shots, our lovely state also leads the nation in having the highest average property insurance premiums at $1,933, roughly double the rest of the country. We're Number Huh?

Now before you get all cranky over the ridiculous rates of property insurance premiums, you should stop and take yourself to task for being so selfish. After all, if you weren't paying virtual Mafia vigorish to protect your property, how else could Citizens brag about its $7 billion whoopee cushion of cash?

Alas, despite the rosy financial picture for Citizens and all the rest of the state's crackerjack companies like Harvey's Patio Furniture and Property Insurance, Skippy's Brazilian Wax and Property Insurance and, of course, Billy Bob Billy Joe Billy Jim's Billy Billy's Deep Fried Pigs Feet and Property Insurance, it does not seem that homeowners will be seeing much relief in their premiums any time soon.

That's because — cue The Grapes of Wrath theme — the insurance industry is bemoaning that other "cost drivers" are eating away at revenues, like a termite-infested sinkhole directly poised over an earthquake fault line.

Apparently the Great Meanie in this crisis, according to those insurance industry bastions of probity, are evil lawyers who are urging contractors to charge higher rates to make repairs.

Now it is certainly possible there are some sleazy lawyers operating in this state (shocking!), but it defies logic that in an industry where the primary property insurance carrier has a $7 billion surplus and companies like Biff's Whitewater Rafting and Property Insurance have received rate reductions that some of those savings can't be passed along to consumers simply because a few seedy lawyers are causing mischief.

As onerous as some legal grifters gaming the claims system might be, isn't it equally egregious that Florida property owners continue to be A) gouged by insurance companies that got into the business 20 minutes ago and/or B) mugged by Citizens, which, when it isn't trying to foist you off on Vito's Funeral Parlor and Property Insurance, is raising your premiums and hiking deductible coverage while sitting on a $7 billion mosh pit of money?

Please forgive just a teeny pinch of cynicism, but do you have the sneaking suspicion that even if cheesy lawyers weren't trying to rip off the industry, the state's insurance community would have some other dubious excuse not to be lowering rates? Too many mosquitoes? Tampa Bay Rays attendance figures? Derek Jeter's ankle issues? Or maybe just because they don't feel like it.

Ruth: Don't hold your breath for property insurance rate cuts

01/31/14 [Last modified: Friday, January 31, 2014 2:25pm]

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