Tis the political season…

Tis the night before Christmas and all through the capitol, political creatures are stirring… especially in the Senate where Senator Mike Fasano handed the media a letter requesting the Chairman of the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee (B&I) to summon the president of Citizens to be grilled on camera (my words) about “…coverage changes and homeowner policy practices that will take effect on January 1.”

Senator Fasano serves on the committee where he’s earned a reputation for fanning high profile flames but, none more than those lapping at the foundation of Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.

Chairman Garrett Richter astutely deciphered the request, saying in his response “… I do not want to turn our important meetings into a circus or a venue for anyone’s political ambitions…” 

Written answers from Mr. Wallace would be both sufficient and appropriate, Senator Richter explained; to which Senator Fasano responded he will send Wallace his questions but keep pushing for a public hearing.

Of course, the proposed changes by Citizens are unprecedented resulting in major  impact on both exposure and policy count of America’s most dangerously over-exposed insurer. Results could be dramatic for the millions and millions of Floridians (auto drivers, renters, homeowners, businesses, etc) subsidizing the relatively few enjoying suppressed rates for Cadillac coverage (my words again, in case it’s not obvious).

Citizens predicts it could depopulate 656,674 policies representing nearly $193,477,616,422 in total exposure.  What a burden would be lifted if it could be done.

But Senator Fasano writes…“Nearly 1.5 million families have polices through Citizens,”  as though such a number should be compelling when compared to the millions more who subsidize them.

He says…“I cannot fathom how Chairman Richter  won’t find time to allow the concerns of these people to be expressed and responded to in a public forum. … It is a disservice to all Citizens policyholders that the president of the largest insurer in Florida not be given the chance to listen and respond to important concerns of the policyholders he works for.”

Stop right there!

Senator Fasano overlooks that, while Scott Wallace may head  Florida’s largest insurance company, the policyholders he serves are not just the ones his company insures; not by a long shot.

Unlike real insurance companies, Wallace’s company is the only one that confiscates premiums from millions of working families it does not insure; so that those it does insure can pay less than they should.  And…those payers are currently paying millions in assessments from past storms while exposed to millions more from storms yet to come.

Senator Fasano spins this Christmas tragedy so that the substantial majority he doesn’t invite before the committee are treated as though they don’t count.  Why isn’t he asking them to express how they feel about the confiscatory nature of the subsidy they provide to their generally wealthier coastal counterparts?

Senator Fasano said, “In 2011 and in preparation for the 2012 session the committee has spent plenty of time listening to anti-consumer bills. Over the past year or more what seems like an umpteenth number of committee meetings have been devoted to listening to industry presentations.”

Really Senator?

The bills you speak of, such as SB-408, are only anti-consumer if you’re a trial lawyer or one of their fronting groups, or if you’re a public adjuster or Sean Shaw–the people   proven in my previous blogs to pocket millions at the expense of consumers.  SB-408 will reduce premiums for those not contributing to their largesse; those not filing frivolous sinkhole claims or those with mitigated homes in less vulnerable areas.

Senator Fasano’s approach incentivizes people not to mitigate and to keep acting irresponsibly; often to the benefit of just a handful of law firms in or near his district.

Besides, Chairman Richter has made double sure members of the B&I committee heard from everyone: trial lawyers, the Insurance Consumer Advocates office, DFS, the Office of Insurance Regulation, The Florida Justice Association, the staff of Citizens and a myriad of non-industry business groups.  Hardly a “slap in the face”.

Frankly, the only group being slapped are those Senator Fasano seems to not want to appear; those his policies hurt.

“I have no doubt that if the insurance industry were to request the opportunity to address the committee time would be found to allow people to come and speak to the legislators”  Fasano said.

True enough; but, Senator…

 Scott Wallace didn’t request to come before the committee; you requested he do so, and in light of the above, Chairman Richter  was on point using the word “circus” in his response.

Frankly, if Senator Richter was inclined to ring master such a show, I would hope Senator Fasano would support any effort to have representatives of the “subsidizers”, those unfairly taxed, to come before the committee as well.  This way other Senators on the committee could see just how much reform of Citizens is necessary and just how justified it’s board is in making these changes.

It may be the political season, but…for the 1.5 million that Senator Fasano continues to spin for, it’s also been Christmas.

Isn’t it about time we heard from those who may be tired of playing Santa Claus?



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