What's behind insurer's request? | July 18, story
State Farm still looks like good bet So State Farm asks for a 47.1 percent rate hike and state Sen. Mike Fasano says, "I know I will do everything I can to see they don't get one dime of an increase."
He calls himself a Republican? What's wrong with him? What possible sense would it make for State Farm to want to drop more policyholders unless they were not making money on them? On the other hand, of course, if they're not making money on them then they do indeed need a rate increase!
It's one thing for these new Florida insurance company start-ups we talk about to have lower premiums and take our money. They could even promise to lower your premium every year for the next five years, but who trusts these new guys to have the money for us when the big one hits? Not I for one. It might not be so difficult to be in the insurance business … until a catastrophe strikes. My money is still on State Farm.
James A. Nannen, St. Petersburg
Fire State Farm
State Farm's rate increase is a familiar move used by other insurers: Cancel thousands of policies, collect commissions by moving customers to the poorly run state Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and seek an increase to replace the profit from cancellations. Unfortunately, campaign promises have produced little relief. All we have is the largest state-run insurance company in the nation with us footing the bill for increased rates and Citizens' costs too.
It is time to tell insurers like State Farm, "We are mad as heck and we're not going to take it anymore!" If State Farm cancels you, fire them. Cancel all your policies with them. Why give them your more profitable car and life policies?
Until these companies face the economic pinch that only the consumer can bring, they will continue to gouge us and profit from the free ride that Citizens gives them.
Gene Wells, Tampa
Insurer seeks hefty hike | July 17, story
Real estate repercussions
The insurance catastrophe in Florida is not due to lack of competition, but to a lack of regulation. Florida could pass regulations to guarantee insurance companies a small profit at affordable rates, and prevent companies from buying reinsurance from their parent companies. The reinsurance business is a shell game to transfer profits upstairs and keep rates high at the state level.
This rate increase could be the final nail in the coffin for residential real estate in Florida. What are the banks going to do when overstretched homeowners can no longer afford insurance? What if they refuse to buy insurance? Many homeowners, who a couple of years ago had a nice equity in their homes, find themselves near upside down on their mortgages. This could be the tipping point.
Rick Chapman, Holiday
Insurer seeks hefty hike | July 17, story
The profit factor
There was one important point missing from this article: last year's profits of State Farm Insurance. If I thought the company was losing money I could understand asking for a rate hike for already very high rates. However, I really don't think they are in any way hurting as most of their policyholders are.
I know I have had insurance, both car and home, for many years and I know the amount of claims I have made are only a tiny fraction of the amount I have paid in all these years. Enough already!
Barbara Rasmussen, Dunedin
Deeply in debt in a house of cards | July 13, Perspective story
Our problems will not be solved until we find a way to make our congressional representatives assume responsibility for integrity in business. I have watched as credit cards were not only readily given, but also pushed upon those who had no credit history and issued to those who had no jobs to enable them to make payments.
Then business found the untapped market of people who were unable to qualify to purchase homes. The government allowed the lenders to package the loans (so no one was accountable) and the loans were sold to those who wanted to make a fast buck. Now we have to use tax dollars to bail everyone out, because they were allowed to exploit their greed.
Congress is the one to be held responsible, because they were busy working on being re-elected, instead of doing the job we hired them to do. Until we demand reform for campaign financing, we will not begin to solve our problems. We need integrity!
Barbara Fletcher, Largo
Bucks don't stop | July 13, Perspective story
Consider costs of war
After reading the Daniel Gross article I couldn't believe he didn't attribute any of our economic woes to the war in Iraq. Here we are spending billions of dollars on a war we can't win and can't afford.
How are we financing the war? By borrowing from foreign nations. This deficit spending helps push down the value of the dollar on foreign markets. The oil-producing nations want the same value for their oil so the price of oil doubles and energy costs soar. This translates into increased costs for most consumer products essential to everyday living. Hard goods purchases (cars, appliances, furniture, homes) are eliminated or postponed. Employers cut back on production thus eliminating jobs.
So we now are facing a recession the government doesn't know how to deal with or even acknowledge. The Federal Reserve's decrease in interest hasn't worked and the stimulus payments had little effect. Maybe Gross is right that the president can do little to solve the problem. But the fact still remains that as President Truman said, "the buck stops here." In good times the president is the hero and in bad times he is the fall guy. That's just they way it is.
Dan Ward, Zephyrhills
Money, deceit, sex and lawyers | July 13, story
As a trial attorney, it is always disheartening to read about the misconduct of other lawyers. These lawyers do the public, the bar and our justice system a major disservice by further tarnishing the perception of lawyers in the minds of the general public. That being said, I took exception to the characterization that "personal injury attorneys come in two varieties — 'finders' and 'grinders.' "
I have been practicing as a personal injury attorney in Tampa for more than 10 years and my law firm has been representing victims for more than 40 years. I can assure you that neither myself nor any member of my firm is either a "finder" or "grinder." We do not advertise on television or on billboards. Instead most of our cases come to us through referrals from other lawyers and former clients.
While there are a handful of firms that treat the practice of law like a business first, these firms are the exception and not the rule. The vast majority of personal injury attorneys I have encountered try to provide excellent representation to their clients and place the client's interests above their own.
I hope in the future that your writers are more judicious in the words they choose.
Kevin McLaughlin, Esq., Tampa
Determined calm in spite of the storms July 13, Jeff Klinkenberg column
Thank you, Jeff, for putting the hurricane matter in perspective. Yes, we could get hit eventually, but the media whipping us into a panic every time there is weather somewhere in the world is just plain silly and exhausting.
Yes, we should prepare, but trying to create mass hysteria on a daily basis under the guise of news is getting pretty boring and annoying! We are so saturated with it, that when something really happens, we will be all out of adrenaline to cope!
G.G. Williams, St. Petersburg