After the recent Citizens Depopulation Summit an industry lobbyist asked me, “Where’s the other side? Why aren’t we hearing from the majority of Florida’s 15 million residents paying higher taxes so that a mere 1.5 million can pay less than they should for insurance?”
A serious question that deserves a serious response, which I will now give!
The answer…taxation without representation. It’s true, those being unfairly taxed don’t have a group or a spokesperson to represent them.
By contrast, those receiving the subsidy are well looked after–first by trial lawyers and public adjuster groups acting like their customers are all destitute, but…also by a myriad of consumer groups.
These organizations often have hip sounding monikers like FIRM (Fair Insurance Rates for Monroe) or FAIR (Florida Association for Insurance Reform). There’s also CAN (Consumer Advocacy Network) and FCAN (Florida Consumer Action Network), POF (Policyholders of Florida), and probably a half dozen more.
But, where’s the consumer group called FOUITFWCR (Pronounced; Fooyt-Fwicker) for Floridians Opposed to Unfair Insurance Taxes Favoring Wealthy Coastal Residents. (Caution: before saying the first time in mixed company rehearsals are recommended!)
The majority of Florida residents qualify for membership in FOUITFWCR (one more time; it’s Fooyt-Fwicker) because almost all of us are taxed to benefit the very few being subsidized in Citizens–beneficiaries rumored to include thousands of non-resident millionaires including Carl Rove, Mike Huckabee and even Hulk Hogan’s $40 million mansion.
Citizens insures less than 25% of the homeowners policies, but…even those who can’t afford homes–single moms in apartment complexes, students, mobile home renters, those living in subsidized housing, etc–are taxed on their auto policies. They also pay higher consumer prices when assessments are passed down by developers and businesses, all of whom had already received special treatment when Workers Comp was excluded from the assessment calculation.
Rich doctors, too, have a similar dispensation for medical malpractice, but…nobody has done anything for Florida’s poorest individuals.
What the FOUITFWCR is going on here?
Twenty-Five (25) state lawmakers have the courage to go on record saying something is terribly wrong with this system and that the board of Citizens is right in trying to do something about it.
They’ve penned a letter to Citizens interim President, Tom Grady, stating the obvious but rarely spoken truth. Unfortunately, far too many lawmakers either didn’t have similar courage or failed to understand that only one county has a majority of households (not homeowners) in Citizens, Hernando. All the others, even coastal counties, including Monroe, have a majority of households that are providing the subsidy to Citizens policyholders, many of whom are snowbirds and millionaires.
The lawmakers letter is reproduced here not so much because of what it says, but…because those saying it are leading the way for others to finally follow.
It is also hoped this may spawn enough interest that the oft forgotten majority of Floridians tired of taxation without representation can finally have their own consumer group.
For more information on FOUITFWCR and how you can get involved in the fight…click here!
Now, here’s the letter from 25 lawmakers. (See NOTE #1 below, for which ones).
Dear Mr. Grady,
We want lower homeowner’s insurance rates in Florida. There are so many things we wish were less expensive, including health care and gasoline . But the recent debate about Citizens Insurance rates is not about the cost of the insurance – it’s about who is paying for it. That is why we applaud the current Citizens board for recognizing that the current system is unsustainable, and for working for meaningful reform.
The purpose of insurance is to cover risk. Within the private market, where most consumers in Florida purchase their insurance, the customers pay for the actual cost to provide that protection – without any government subsidy paid for by the taxpayers of Florida. Not so with Citizens Insurance.
Adding new customers at subsidized rates is no more than a tax on every Floridian who does not have a Citizens policy – whether they live in central Florida, Miami, or Jacksonville. So the real question here is this: Should a government-created insurer of last resort be offering policies essentially at a loss, while continuing to expand, pushing out private sector insurers, and subsidizing some homeowners at the expense of others?
We don’t think that’s good public policy. It’s not fair. It’s not fiscally sound. And it certainly does not reflect the core beliefs of a majority of the state Legislature, who passed a law requiring that Citizens become as financially solvent as possible – thus reducing the need to tax all Floridians for future shortfalls in an emergency.
Citizens Insurance should move toward once again being the insurer of last resort – not the beginning of a government-created single-payer system that supplants the private sector.
We understand and share the desire for lower homeowner’s insurance rates. However, Floridians who are currently paying full-price for their insurance in the private market don’t deserve to pay a subsidy for those on Citizens. We are greatly encouraged by the board’s desire for reform and its willingness to tackle this very complex and difficult issue. To that end, we urge the board to continue working to eliminate the threat of tax increases on Florida’s families and to bring fairness to the system for all regions of Florida.
NOTE #1: The letter was signed by incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, along with Senate Insurance Chairman Garrett Richter, R-Naples, Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, and Reps. Eric Eisnaugle, R-Orlando, Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville, Brad Drake, R-Eucheeanna, Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, Bill Hager, Boca Raton, Mike Horner, R-Kissimmee, Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka, Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, Elizabeth Porter, R-Lake City, Stephen Precourt, R-Orlando, Lake Ray, R-Jacksonville, Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, John Tobia, R-Melbourne, Mike Weinstein, R-Jacksonville, and Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne.
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