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‘Greedy’ lawyers and insurers to blame for high cost of car insurance in Florida

Readers didn’t hold back. They pointed at the state’s “terrible” drivers, too.
Florida has some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country. [Courtesy of Clearwater Police]

You have some strong opinions about what makes auto insurance so expensive in Florida. My email and phone line lit up after I wrote about the topic last week.

Most readers relayed tales of getting “pummeled,” “fleeced” and “poleaxed” by high rates. They wrote about how spotless driving records didn’t prevent their rates from spiking.

More than one wondered why their rates were still going up despite driving only a couple of thousand miles a year. (Annual mileage doesn’t affect rates as much as you might think.)

Related: Attorney general accuses timeshare relief company of widespread fraud.

That column touched on some of the reasons for high rates — uninsured motorists and no-fault insurance requirements, among them. But most of the readers dispensed with any nuance and pointed to three culprits: greedy personal injury attorneys, equally greedy insurance companies and too many terrible drivers.

“I always knew we were paying for a variety of deadbeats out there,” wrote one Clearwater reader. “But learning that 25 percent of Florida drivers don’t carry insurance — Is there not state law requiring insurance for driving?”

Indeed, there is.

A few readers passed along tips on how to score lower rates — always shop around, take an online safe-driving course, mention your AAA membership. One agent even offered to try to lower what I pay.

There’s more to come on this issue. Stay tuned.

• • •

Hurricanes are a menace, an unfortunate reality of living — and doing business — in Florida. As they approach, getting out of the way seems like a good idea.

South Florida-based Spirit Airlines has decided not to wait. The discount carrier announced late last week that it will relocate its operations department to Tennessee in 2021.

The Operations Control Center, which coordinates 650 daily flights, employs about 240 people. In 2017, Hurricane Irma forced them to temporarily relocate to Detroit. Last year, they decamped to Atlanta for Hurricane Dorian.

The move will reduce the risk from hurricanes and tropical storms, the company said in a statement. Spirit, which has about 6,500 employees, plans to double its number of aircraft from 150 to 300 in the next five years. The company’s headquarters will remain in South Florida.

• • •

Ever sat in a restaurant and wondered how much money it was bringing in? Maybe that’s just something business columnists think about. Either way, Womply is out with a report that sheds some light on the economics of the Tampa Bay area dining scene.

The provider of small business software looked at the daily revenue of more than 36,000 restaurants across the country. These weren’t massive chains. They had to qualify as a small business, and Womply had to have a full year of transaction history.

In our area, the restaurants averaged 53 transactions at $28.64 per ticket each day or a little more than $1,500 in daily sales. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were about 40 percent busier than the rest of the week. Customers spent more per ticket on those days, too.

Spring and early summer were the most lucrative seasons, with three of the best days coming in March, the height of Tampa Bay’s tourist season.

Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day weekend and Easter weekend were all prime times. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Thanksgiving were all below average, even for the restaurants that remained open those days.