In my last blog on the Citizens sinkhole rate increase I commented on the fact that Senator Mike Fasano, consumer advocates, the media and the former state Insurance Consumer Advocate (ICA) Sean Shaw, were hurting Florida consumers; the ones they claim to be advocating for. One of those on my list took time to respond and clarify her position. Her name is Ginny Stevans and because her comments and my response go right to the heart of what’s taking place, I’ve reproduced both below.
I must confess…since I haven’t heard back from Ms. Stevans, in my own delusional way, I’m thinking maybe my response had an impact. “Maybe she see’s my point” I thought. “Maybe she’s rethinking her stand.”
Don’t laugh! It could happen. If Ms. Stevans truly cares about consumers and the facts are the facts…it’s possible. In fact, I’m naive enough to think some others on my list (excluding Senator Fasano at this point) might do the same; again, assuming they allow themselves to digest the facts.
And so I’ve made overtures to my friend Chip Merlin, the founder of the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (FAPIA). He also employs Sean Shaw, who has gone from advocating for consumers to advocating for public adjusters.
I know this is a challenge; after all, public adjusters are the only real winners in this deal. But, my prayer is that Chip will do as he’s done when we’ve worked together in the past; simply examine the evidence a little more closely to see if there’s room for a different conclusion. Maybe ask a few questions. Seek a few clarifications. Try to find out, as I have, what’s best for the majority of consumers.
This rate increase helps a huge majority of Citizens policyholders and private consumers. And, even the few who wish to continue their unjust enrichment aren’t really being hurt by not buying optional coverage that, under SB-408, now requires every penny of sinkhole claim payment to be spent on repairs. As I said in my last blog…
There is both logic and irony in the suggestion that the reforms of SB-408 might reduce the future payout for sinkhole losses and thus the need for such a large rate increase. The irony is that, since those reforms include requiring claim dollars to be spent on repairs, those who bought it, the 50,000, are likely to drop the coverage even if the indicated rate need was a reduction.
While we wait to see if Chip Merlin’s mind is made up or not, and thus whether Sean Shaw may rethink his stance as well here, again, is the exchange between myself and Ms. Stevans. Enjoy.
Just to clarify for your records I have NEVER sided with Florida’s Consumer Advocate! In fact I have complained LOUDLY in the past how I feel this APPOINTED position often tends to air on the side of the insurance industry! Also to clarify “Where were they” when speaking of rate hearings. I HAVE been to rate hearings, testified several times in Tallahassee, brought hundreds of people to Tallahassee, and spoken with, written, and called not only members of the House and Senate, but the former Governor (the new one does not see consumers), and two former Insurance Consumer Advocates. I have ALL ALONG believed that what HAS happened to consumers WOULD happen. I fought against the initial dropping of sinkhole policies and making it a “choice” as they say. What is going on in Tallahassee is disgusting and we are run by lobbyists and the insurance industry! All I can say is watch out because the people are waking up and so their time will soon be up too! We voted them in and I can guarantee we can vote them out!
My response was as follows:
Ginny, thanks for reading my blog and taking the time to respond.
As you suggested, I’ll update my records to reflect that.. you “never” agree with the consumer advocates office. Of course, I never said that you always agreed either and, for your records, please note: I don’t always agree with the insurance industry.
My question on “where were they?” was…where were you in responding to Sean Shaw’s office when it advocated that Citizens sinkhole losses should not be part of the 10% cap on Citizens rates? All the legislature did was implement his (or rather, his offices) recommendation in order to benefit 80% of Citizens policyholders. Keep in mind that only 1 in 5 sinkhole alley policyholders buys this coverage from Citizens. Why do you want to pay for that? Why do you want the other policyholders of Citizens and the state to pay for that?
Wouldn’t it be more consumer friendly to advocate that those few who want something, that a majority don’t want, pay for it themselves? I understand why a Public Adjuster or trial attorney might want people to buy sinkhole activity coverage really cheap, but…why would someone advocating for consumers want a huge majority to pay more so they could; especially when they are forced to pay it as an assessment on coverage they were forced to purchase by a lender?
By the way, I agree with you on one point… like you, I knew this would happen to consumers too. But, it’s the result of previous administrations who found it easier to take from that majority in order to unjustly enrich a minority who wanted an “elective” coverage–and, of course, to curry favor with public adjusters enriched by the claim payments.
You and I may also agree that people, as you said, are “waking up”. Last year’s legislation is testament that they now understand the unfairness of subsidizing vacations and mortgage payoffs with money paid to repair stucco cracks.
Again, thanks for the comments.