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AT LEAST THAT CRISIS IS FIXED - OH, WAIT ...

Maybe this is going out on a limb, but ...

I don't think our governor and Legislature quite fixed that hurricane insurance thing like they had hoped.

Instead of rate cuts averaging 24 percent, as predicted, insurance companies have requested increases averaging 37 percent (so far).

Many private companies are continuing to cancel or restrict policies.

The state-created company, Citizens Property Insurance, keeps growing and now accounts for 60 percent of the windstorm risk in this state.

And thanks to what the Legislature did in January, the public sector (that means us taxpayers and ratepayers) bears more risk than ever.

This is the worst of all possible worlds: a weak private market and a bigger-than-ever public risk.

The January session was a failure.

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There are various approaches to our problem:

(1) We can try to please the insurance companies. Maybe they'll treat us better.

(2) We can try to force the companies' hand by the power of law and regulation.

(3) We can have Florida government take over even more of the risk.

(4) We can reduce risk by making our buildings stronger and building less in high-risk areas (fat chance!).

The law we passed in January said that Florida's emergency fund, or "cat fund," would kick in at a lower level.

The idea was that private insurance companies would buy cheaper "reinsurance" (that's insurance for insurance companies) through the state's fund.

As a result, the private companies would be more cheaply protected against catastrophe, and more willing to stay - with lower rates.

The companies would be required to make filings with the state showing their savings. Instead, many of them found a way around it.

It has not worked.

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As my colleagues Tom Zucco and Jennifer Liberto have been reporting, many companies that did take the state's offer used the savings to buy even more reinsurance, instead of lowering rates.

Furthermore, a few have even bought reinsurance from their parent or related companies - including a profit margin. Sweet deal.

The companies say this is reasonable. After all, they are still on the hook for billions in case of a big storm, wiping out anything they make in the short term.

In coming months, the action will be in regulation, as the state insurance commissioner fights the rate hike requests. But he can only do so much, and companies can (and do) win on appeal.

The underlying structural problem remains. No doubt, now that the governor and Legislature have fixed Florida's property taxes and other problems, they will turn their attention to finishing the job that they did not finish in January. No doubt.

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Today is Tuesday, which means it's live chat day on TroxBlog. From noon to 1 p.m. today I'll be taking reader comments and questions about current events in Florida and the Tampa Bay area.

Click on the "Blogs" link of www.tampabay.com, or type the address blogs.tampabay.com/troxler. If you can't be there live, stop by afterward to read a transcript of the chat.

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