Saturday, April 21, 2018
Opinion

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.

Comments
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18