Insurance bill is dangerous to homeowners

Published Feb. 1, 2012

Bill dangerous to homeowners

This week the Florida House of Representatives is poised to take up HB 245, which is scheduled to be considered Thursday on the House floor. This bill is intended to remove policyholders from Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and make unregulated surplus lines companies available as an alternative insurance company. This is a dangerous bill to consumers because it will take away many protections that Citizens policyholders currently enjoy.

The Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) was created by the Florida Legislature to handle claims of insurance companies that have become insolvent. This bill could put policyholders into companies that are not members of the FIGA. Without the protections of the FIGA, if a company goes under, the homeowner will be left holding the bag for any outstanding claims.

Surplus lines companies do not need to meet the requirements of the specific documents and forms that regulated companies must meet. This means there could potentially be very bad provisions in policies of which the consumer may not even be aware.

Perhaps most importantly, insurance premiums of surplus line companies are not regulated by the Office of Insurance Regulation. To put it simply, surplus lines companies can raise premiums at will. The state has no ability to stop surplus lines companies from raising rates at any time and by any amount.

I strongly encourage every policyholder who is covered by Citizens, and who does not want to be pushed into a surplus lines company, to contact your House member immediately and tell him or her to vote against HB 245. It is imperative that you act quickly before this bill is passed by the Florida House.

Sen. Mike Fasano, New Port Richey

Sewage plant will harm community

I resent a Pasco County Commission that does not represent the best interest of me or my community. I am appalled that my elected county commissioner, Ted Schrader, would not only permit but support a plan that would in build a sewage treatment plant in our rural community.

I am a resident of the rural community that surrounds the proposed site. I work in Tampa, but I choose to live in Dade City. I commute so my family can enjoy a small-town country lifestyle and the benefits it provides. The air is clean, the water fresh and my view is unencumbered by urban sprawl.

My neighbors and I have formed a group of concerned citizens to investigate the county proposal and offer alternatives. The commissioners' plan would compromise our agricultural lifestyle, property values, and businesses. We are Sewage Treatment Opposition Project! I am encouraged that our friends and neighbors will not take this intrusion sitting down and will not be silent. We have received support from hundreds of other Pasco residents along with their families and friends.

This support is appreciated and has been earned because our message is clear. Building a sewage treatment plant within a community that will not benefit from the process or the product is wrong. It's like one man building his outhouse in another man's front yard.

Karl Hayward, Dade City

It's too easy to get a gun Jan. 27, letter

Gun shows part of important rights

The basic assumption of the letter-writer is false. More guns do not result in more crime. Growing population numbers in combination with more guns do not result in higher crime rates, nor in higher murder by firearm rates.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there were 219 fewer "total murders by firearm" in the year 2010 than there were in 1989, yet the population increased by almost 6 million people by 2010. During that same period, the "murder rate per 100,000" dropped from 11.0 to 5.3 (per 100,000 population), more than a 50 percent decline.

Another false assumption is that gun shows are a major source of guns used in crimes. Several Bureau of Justice Statistics studies indicate that convicted criminals obtained less than 2 percent of their guns from gun shows.

It is illegal for a felon to even possess a firearm, and it is illegal for anyone to sell a firearm to a felon, gun show or not.

Gun shows are an important part of our Second Amendment rights, and the growing interest of law-abiding citizens in the basic right of self-defense, also appealing to law enforcement officers, hunters, hobbyists, collectors and target shooters.

They also provide meeting places which provide technical information, expert advice, classes in firearms training and safe firearms handling, and the exchange of ideas involving our Second Amendment rights.

It is interesting to note that with the current 887,404 concealed carry licenses in effect in the state of Florida, and the current popularity of gun shows statewide (and nationwide), crime rates keep declining.

Lee Hanson, Hudson

Praise for two Hudson teachers

Close to Gasparilla, Hudson Middle School had its own pirate invasion.

A guest speaker from the St. Augustine Pirate Museum, Capt. Mayhem, came to talk, teach, and perform to all the sixth-graders. He also performed at a family night later that evening. The show was filled with Florida history, pirate facts and a touch of magic to enchant every age.

Two wonderful teachers worked very hard to secure funding and prepare for this event, and I just want to thank Mrs. Starr and Mrs. Bell for caring so much about our kids. It was an experience many of our students might never have had.

It means a lot to the community to have teachers who take the time to do things like this. It was appreciated.

Monica Wiseman, Hudson

Company refuses to set things right

I was expecting my children for Christmas 2010 and New Year 2011 when I noticed my heating vents were covered with mold. It was disgusting and soon the phone rang. It was a solicitor from a heating and cooling company in Clearwater. He came over to my house to do a thorough checklist and found the attic filled with mold.

The workers only changed the vents and said everything was okay. Guess what? The heat surrounding the guest bedroom did not work and they told me it because it was enclosed by an outside wall. I have been living here over 33 years and never had that problem before.

So, I called in a young man, and he went up into the attic to see what he could see. I hear him say, "Oh, there it is." The plug was not connected to that heating area.

An inspector reviewed the work done. He took fabulous photos showing a complete mess lying across the attic floor. My attorney mailed this disaster to the heating and cooling company, and a manager claimed it would not engage in any mold remediation. The manager admitted to mold on eight vents, so why was I billed $4,044?

I asked Discover, my credit card company, to hold back payment, but Discover stated the information submitted by the heating and cooling company appeared valid. Discover needs to check the dictionary. It states "valid'' means "correctly, effectual, cogent." In February 2011, Discover took down my information, but my dispute was ignored.

Sadly, my attorney has gone to live in another state and now I live a life knowing that I was cheated by a company that still is in business and maintains its license. Consumer Services reported 17 consumer complaints filed against the company. How could that be? I am stuck with a mess in the attic and money never returned to me.

Estelle Rodman, Bayonet Point