WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida lawmaker appeared before a House subcommittee this week with a plan he said will solve the state's insurance crisis.
"We have the solution," state Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, said.
His bill, cosponsored with state Rep. Hillary Cassel, D-Dania Beach, calls for Citizens Insurance to take over wind coverage only for all Floridians, similar to a solution California did 28 years ago for earthquakes.
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"They adopted a plan to create a nonprofit publicly managed, privately financed insurance entity that did two things," Roach said. "It provided claims and only claims for all-natural disasters."
He said the result would be a return of private insurers for all other claims besides wind and with much lower premiums.
"I believe Florida will eventually and inevitably follow this model," Roach said.
He added that Texas has a similar program for wind coverage.
"This is a very different change in direction. It will fundamentally change Citizens," Citizens Insurance CEO Tim Cerio, who is trying to depopulate Citizens policies, said.
Cerio also said costs for the change would increase for the agency's reinsurance — from about $650 million this past year to about $5.6 billion.
Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis does not think wind-only statewide coverage for Citizens is a good idea.
"The start of the worst decision you can make in the state," Patronis said.
However, others think it might be worth a look.
"I'm not against that idea, and I'm a free markets person," Charles Nyce, a professor at Florida State University's Department of Risk Management and Insurance, said. "There are some places where Citizens may be able to play a better role in the market, so one of them is the wind, I think they could, possibly, have to do that."
The House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee took no action, preferring to start a discussion on the proposal.
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