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State Farm needs to make changes to protect policyholders

Don't let State Farm gouge policyholders | July 28, editorial

Changes needed to protect policyholders

The editorial criticizing State Farm for its recent rate filing to modify discounts for homeowners was off the mark. Insurers need to have adequate funds to pay customers' claims. State Farm Florida's filing will help ensure the company has enough cash to pay its claims if a major storm strikes this year or next and is not an effort to skirt the law. Filing to modify some of its discounts was an action State Farm was forced to take to ensure its solvency and protect policyholders.

But there are larger issues here. In order to protect Floridians, insurance policies should be supported by well-capitalized and trusted insurers rather than forcing homeowners to rely on emerging no-name companies or the destined-to-implode state-run Citizens Property Insurance. If disaster strikes, Floridians and the businesses that employ them will be left holding the bag to the tune of billions of dollars in assessments.

Associated Industries of Florida was an ardent advocate for the Consumer Choice Act (House Bill 1171), which would have helped to restore a competitive property insurance market to the state. Ultimately vetoed, this bill would have allowed consumers to decide if they wanted to pay premiums charged by financially strong insurers to assure their claim would be paid. Government shouldn't make consumers' choices for them — it's the people's money and they should spend it as they best see fit.

State Farm Florida's filing is also about consumer choice. The Office of Insurance Regulation should approve the company's filing so customers can decide for themselves if they want to keep their insurance with State Farm Florida or shop for other coverage.

Barney T. Bishop III, president and CEO, Associated Industries of Florida, Tallahassee

Time to throw away the race card | Aug. 2, letter

Racial hatreds have not been overcome

Irrefutably President Barack Obama received millions of white votes, and since his election the face of racism will never be the same. But to assume, as the letter writer does, that "we are now and forever equal" is naive. Indeed, hatred seems to have grown against Hispanics and Muslims as evidenced by the hate Web sites springing up, and the president himself has now been labeled a racist by some political bloviators.

The president did not call the police "stupid," he said they acted stupidly; that's a big difference. Unlike his predecessor, Obama has been open about admitting his mistakes. As The peacemaker letter on the same date revealed, it was a unique way for our leader not only to say he spoke in error, but also to bring those opposing entities together and talk rationally when cooler heads prevail.

Maybe the Israelis and Arabs should sit down over a cup of tea.

Bill Ackerman, Homosassa

Time to throw away the race card | Aug. 2, letter

We haven't gotten past this

Some people seem to think that the infamous race will someday just disappear into thin air. Well, sorry to break the bad news, but it won't. The majority of your nonminority Americans have never been the victims of prejudice and probably never will. Even though the so called "race card" has been misused, it exists because of the racism that has plagued this country for hundreds of years.

People may think times have changed since it's 2009, but racism hasn't changed at all. It's everywhere and not leaving any time soon. I personally think that if you have never been in a situation where the so-called infamous race card can be used or not, then you really have no idea what goes through the minds of the people when they react to a situation that gave them a reason to use it.

If the race card could be thrown away, this would be a better and happier planet. We should be closer as a people, but people tend to live in the past and be scared of things they don't know or understand. We are all one people living on this one planet. We all bleed the same color; why can't we get past this?

Tina Hatch, New Port Richey

A case of travel fatigue

I've been waiting for someone to mention the following aspect of the infamous arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., but have yet to see this point made in print. Isn't it true that professor Gates was arrested upon his return from China? Having traveled all over the world, I can attest to the extreme exhaustion nearly every mortal feels upon completing a 20-24 hour journey.

This poor man was undoubtedly physically and mentally fried upon returning to his home in Cambridge, Mass. I think I would have gone more than ballistic had I been arrested at my front door after having (finally, finally) arrived there after an arduous journey. It seems entirely rational to me that he may have acted "irrationally" under this perfect storm of circumstances.

Laura Keane, St. Petersburg

Colorful character | July 30, letter

Unseemly stereotype

This letter quoted the late Sen. Jim King as saying, "I kissed more fannies than a French gigolo …"

This "class clown," as the letter writer warmly describes him, perpetuated derisive ethnic stereotypes about French people as sex workers. Hopefully such national origin/ethnic slurs will become extinct with his passing.

Sheryle Roquevert, St. Petersburg

Lives lost and saved

Let me begin by saying I am in favor of health care reform. I have to buy my own insurance and currently pay more for it than any mortgage I have ever had. But I want to address the Aug. 1 news and wonder if anyone else noticed.

In the PolitiFact story, Researcher backs claim about uninsured deaths, it says, "As many as 22,000 Americans die each year because they don't have health insurance." In the business section the same day, an article headlined On the menu at Denny's: salty suit states that "reducing sodium content of packaged and restaurant foods by half would save at least 150,000 lives a year."

Dale F. Gruver, Tampa

Cash for Clunkers

Poor deal for the poor

The working poor suffer yet again. A $4,500 discount on a $30,000 car still leaves a cost of more than $25,000, which is out of reach for most people who are living paycheck to paycheck.

Why don't they give that discount on one- to three-year-old fuel-efficient used cars, certified by the dealer. Then maybe all of us could afford a better car.

Moral to the story: The rich and upper middle class still win and the working stiffs still lose. What else is new?

Glenn Johnson, St. Petersburg

State Farm needs to make changes to protect policyholders 08/04/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 4, 2009 6:56pm]
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