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Insure for wind damage the way we do for flooding

I have a solution to the insurance crisis in Florida. Many companies are canceling policies, raising premiums to unconscionable levels, or pulling out of our state altogether.

It is the windstorm aspect of insurance coverage that is the primary reason insurers are either raising premiums or pulling out of Florida.

In the past insurers did not want to cover flood damage, so it was excluded from most policies. If you live in a flood zone, you purchase separate flood coverage through the national flood insurance program. As you know, flooding often accompanies windstorms as they are usually associated with the same incident (a hurricane).

A solution to the problem would be to allow homeowners policies also to exclude windstorm coverage and create a national windstorm coverage program, which could be separate or added to the national flood insurance program. Property owners could purchase "national flood and windstorm" coverage.

If insurers were able to exclude windstorm coverage, the same as they now exclude flood coverage, there would be no more insurance crisis in Florida. Property owners would simply buy national windstorm and flood coverage.

I realize this would require cooperation on the federal level, but our governor is in a position to recommend this possible solution.

Charles Scott, Esq., St. Petersburg

Let Citizens do it

The property insurance companies operating in Florida are allowed to pick and choose which properties they will insure for wind. Naturally these insurance companies insure only those properties that will result in a profit for them. Citizens Property Insurance is left with high-risk properties to insure.

My suggestion is that the state-run Citizens be the only "company" allowed to provide wind insurance for property in Florida. Citizens will then have a balanced portfolio of high-risk and low-risk properties, resulting in a better financial situation for the residents and state of Florida.

The state of California has for years been providing earthquake insurance in California and has done so with reasonable premiums and deductibles. Maybe our politicians can learn something by studying what California has done with its earthquake policies.

Gerald Nassif, St. Pete Beach

A sales tax solution

I don't understand why our legislators can't fix our insurance problems.

Why can't we pass a 2-cent sales tax, so the money could go into a fund only for hurricane and sinkhole damage claims for the state? The money not needed could be reinvested. This way even visitors would help pay for hurricane claims.

Then the insurance companies could come back into Florida and write normal policies, excluding hurricanes and sinkholes. That way their premiums would be what we used to pay, and even if they had claims with a $1,000 deductible, they could make a profit as in years past.

This would be an easy fix, and if funds were ever short, the state could borrow from the federal disaster fund and pay it back in years with few hurricanes.

Al Priebe, Safety Harbor

On insurance, go for bold, editorial Nov. 30

Get to problem's root

Too often it seems legislators do not exercise critical thinking skills when analyzing serious problems, allowing outside interests to do the thinking for them. For this reason, I am very concerned that a "solution" to the property insurance crisis will be temporary at best.

Legislators seem focused on the assumption that a private, competitive market will result in lower rates, when in fact if Citizens becomes truly efficient at hurricane insurance management, one could foresee how it could become a lower-cost solution than all private insurers. This could be true given, (1) it doesn't require a profit premium and (2) it will have more current hurricane claims management experience in the Florida market than all private insurers combined.

The key to a lasting solution is driving to the root cause of huge claims: the inability of property to withstand severe hurricanes with manageable financial losses. This means strict enforcement and tighter controls of tougher building codes throughout the state, analyzing each property one by one. It also means that every property owner must, over say two to five years, bring his/her property up to code or pay a risk-adjusted higher premium (or higher deductible). All property owners must have appropriate incentives to protect their property such that when the "next big one" strikes an area of our state, we all suffer less.

Rick Perry, Treasure Island

Consider the workers

A special legislative session is set for Jan. 16 to address our homeowners insurance issues. Our representatives need to enter this session with eyes wide open and with a vision toward the future of Florida.

Tourism keeps Florida afloat - just ask Mickey. To all our representatives, here's a news flash: Service workers can no longer afford to live in Florida due to the astronomical cost of homeowners insurance. People are selling and moving out, and the trend will continue until Florida is nothing more than a giant ghost town.

Who will visit a state where there are no service workers? Who will move to a state where there are no service workers? Who will choose to remain in a state where there are no service workers?

Those at the special session should also keep in mind that inlanders chose the inland because we couldn't afford the luxury of a waterfront view and breeze. Now we all share the cost of damage.

Citizens Property Insurance Corp. was formed as a last-resort insurance company, yet people can no longer afford even the last resort.

We keep hearing from Washington that the country is in such good economic shape, yet citizens are losing their homes. We can send millions to other countries, yet our own citizens are hurting. The American dream has become an unrealistic goal for many and a nightmare for some who found it. Does anyone in government really care? Anyone?

J. Briscoe, Clearwater

Help from Iran and Syria? Let's get real | Dec. 1

Reality in Iraq

Thanks to Charles Krauthammer for his sanity and clear vision! This column about the kind of help we can expect from Iran and Syria (in Iraq) was exactly right!

Those countries have done nothing in Iraq but undermine U.S. policy. It is ridiculous to expect them to do anything that would advance U.S. interests in the region, regardless of how it's spun. This idea that including them in a dialogue will help solve the problem in Iraq is ludicrous!

The battle between Hezbollah and Israel this summer highlighted the fact that Syria and Iran continue to harbor terrorists. President Bush once said that those who harbor terrorists will be treated as terrorists. I wish that was one sound bite on which he kept his word. There are many who say we were too aggressive in Iraq. I say we weren't nearly aggressive enough!

Rick Hubbard, Tampa

Sen. Webb, Boor-Va. | Nov. 30

Bush earned an earful

How dare that dweeb, George Will, criticize a great American hero, Sen.-elect Jim Webb. Webb has served this country in a number of capacities, including the military and the Cabinet in a Republican administration, and his son is currently a Marine in Iraq. What has Will ever done for this country except support the rich?

Webb tried to avoid the president but was forced into talking to him. I can assure you that, had the president forced himself upon me, he would have heard a lot more criticism than he got from Webb. When the president's children or those of George Will are serving in Iraq, I will treat them with respect. Until then, good for Sen.-elect Jim Webb for speaking up for the common man.

Roger W. Gambert, Palm Harbor