Gov. Rick Scott vetoes Citizens Property Insurance consumer protections

Gov. Rick Scott also vetoed a bill to require added nighttime security at some stores.
Gov. Rick Scott also vetoed a bill to require added nighttime security at some stores.
Published June 3, 2015

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday vetoed an attempt to make Citizens Property Insurance more consumer-friendly as it pushes homeowners to private companies.

The proposal (HB 1087) would have required Citizens to send homeowners several offers for private insurance, rather than one at a time, so they could make comparisons between rates. And it would have limited Citizens to contacting a policyholder only twice per year.

It also would have allowed people to return to Citizens if their rates increased more than 10 percent in the first three years with a private insurer.

Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said on the floor in April that the measure would help her constituents for whom Citizens is an "only resort" option, not the last resort.

But Scott said the bill would have discouraged people from leaving Citizens, which he asserts is in the best interests of the state.

"As alternatives to Citizens continue to grow, state policy must continue to reduce dependency on Citizens, as it is designed to be an insurer of last resort and not the insurer of first resort," he wrote in a letter filed with the veto. "With the specter of assessments after a catastrophic event, we should encourage more competition that benefits every family."

A spokeswoman for the Office of Insurance Regulation declined to comment.

The House and Senate passed the bill unanimously in April, opening the possibility that it could be overridden.

Scott also vetoed Tuesday a bill requiring additional security at some convenience stores open overnight, saying the mandate would be a burden for small, family-owned shops.

The governor signed 17 bills into law, as well, including one that seeks to reduce elder abuse at the hands of guardians.

Following reports of neglect and outright abuse by court-appointed guardians, including cases where elderly people were forced out of their homes and their belongings were sold.

After the bill passed unanimously in both chambers in April, Sam Sugar, founder of Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship, told the Times/Herald in an email that meaningful reform would have to involve the Supreme Court.

"There must be consequences when those in charge of enforcing protections fail to follow the laws of the state and instead subvert them and abuse the vulnerable under the guise of 'the best interests' of the ward," he wrote.

Times/Herald staff writer Kathleen McGrory and the News Service of Florida contributed to this report. Contact Michael Auslen at Follow @MichaelAuslen.