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ANOTHER INSURER DEFIES STATE IN ASKING FOR HIKE

Despite assurances from lawmakers that insurance rates will go down, the United Services Automobile Association Group, Florida's fourth-largest property insurer, asked regulators Friday for a 53.9 percent increase on its homeowners policies starting Dec. 31. USAA has about 290,000 policyholders in Florida, including about 60,000 in the Tampa Bay area, and is open only to current and former military personnel and their families. Based in San Antonio, Texas, the company has assets of $13.1-billion and made $138-million in underwriting profit in Florida last year. But company officials said that over the past decade, USAA paid about $220-million more in Florida homeowners insurance losses than it collected in premiums. A rate hearing will likely be scheduled.

Gas stations fill up on generators

Maybe there won't be such a gas station panic after the next big storm in Florida. Nearly all gas stations that are required by a new law to be able to run on generators after a hurricane have complied with the law, state officials said Friday. A spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture, which inspects gas stations, said only about 20 outlets haven't met the requirement, which went into effect June 1. That means about 98 percent of the stations required to be generator-capable are, said department spokesman Terry McElroy. Still uncertain is the penalty for those that don't comply, McElroy says, "because it is, after all, a second-degree misdemeanor." The law requires certain gas stations to be wired to use generators, but many won't be required to have said generator on site.

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