Reports highlight sinkhole issues
Homeowners should take the time to review two reports at www.floir.com. This is the Office of Insurance Regulation website.
The first report is the Insurance Study of Sinkholes submitted to the state of Florida April 2005. In 2004, the Florida Legislature requested a feasibility and cost/benefit study of a Florida Sinkhole Insurance Facility. The report contains a history of the many studies conducted since 1969 regarding the increase in sinkhole claims filed in Florida.
Prior to 2006, Florida did not have a central reporting agency for sinkhole claims and insurance companies were not required to perform geotechnical testing on reported sinkhole claims.
Additionally, the insurance adjuster decided whether or not a sinkhole existed, without testing, and the adjuster's decision was final. These practices were addressed in the Insurance Study of Sinkholes, and standardized testing and reporting became mandatory.
The second report is the Report on Review of the 2010 Sinkhole Data Call published by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation on Nov. 8, 2010. The first full reporting year was 2007 as mandatory reporting began in October 2006. In Pasco County, 1,160 sinkhole claims were reported in 2007 and 1,147 claims were filed in 2008. (I believe this represents a decrease). In 2009, there was an increase in claims, which may coincide with legislative change that allowed insurance companies to totally drop sinkhole coverage in two Florida counties, and perhaps that caused homeowners to panic.
Although 2010 did not include a full reporting year, claims were down 7.2 percent. It is also reported that suspected fraudulent claims represent less than 1 percent of reported claims.
Finally, in response to the allegation that homeowners are not repairing their homes, the report does not clearly state if there was sufficient coverage to pay for remediation and structural repairs.
There is more information available, but these reports would help to educate everyone on a very real problem in Florida.
Melody Zehetner, New Port Richey
No storms, but insurance is up
Why has my home insurance increased 25 percent since last year? There has not been a hurricane in the past several years. I cannot understand the huge increase. The CEO and top managers must have given themselves one heck of a bonus at Christmas.
Why don't citizens get an accounting of the money we donate to them? I have a home appraised at $85,000 and yet, they insist it is worth $171,000 and insure it for that amount. If I am unfortunate enough to sustain a loss of $4,000, they will deduct 2 percent of $171,000, or $3,422 and give me $600 to repair $4,000 worth of damage.
Where is the coverage? The greater their insurance assessment, the more they deduct. It's an injustice that I hope the new governor will look into, or is it business as usual?
Vincent Lombardi, Port Richey
Food giveaway was a success
On Friday, Dec. 17, our office, in conjunction with the offices of Reps. John Legg and Richard Corcoran, and the Pasco Sheriff's Office, held our annual Farm Share holiday food giveaway in New Port Richey. Every year, the Farm Share Program donates a truckload of produce and other goods that are distributed to families in the area that are in need of food for the holiday season. The day was a great success, providing food for more than 500 families. The food giveaway continues to be a success because of the commitment and involvement of many people who volunteer their time to spread holiday cheer to these families.
Volunteer workers and contributors included the Sheriff's Office, Pasco County Explorer's program, New Port Richey Police Department, the Suncoast Epilepsy Association, Knights of Columbus Council 5869. Lowe's of New Port Richey, Generations Christian Church, students and teachers from Dayspring Academy, Chasco Middle and Schrader Elementary schools, Commissioner Henry Wilson and his family, Commissioner Pat Mulieri and Shawn Foster from U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis' office.
Special thanks to Brian Singletary and his staff at the Southgate Publix for providing hams and potatoes at a very reasonable cost to complement the produce of Farm Share, as well as AT&T for its generosity and, most of all, the Farm Share Program for continuing to donate the food to this event every year.
Chief legislative assistant
Office of Sen. Mike Fasano
New Port Richey