and Video Courtesy of FOX 13 -- Tampa Bay
July 30, 2011
TAMPA - It's official, and some suggest a
429 percent increase in Citizens Insurance sinkhole policy rates is all
but a done deal.
it's pretty likely," attorney Sean Shaw reluctantly
acknowledged just minutes after Citizens' Board of Governors
signed off on the rate increase request.
Shaw is the former Insurance
Consumer Advocate for Florida. He now works helping Bay Area
homeowners who have disputes with their insurance companies.
"Citizens has their
people who have said 400 percent statewide average is what
they need. I've heard their spokesperson say that, so I
assume they have some numbers to back that up," Shaw
said. "You cannot justify that to me. That is
On Wednesday, the Citizens'
board voted unanimously to ask the Office of Insurance Regulation to
approve a massive increase in rates charged for sink hole coverage.
The Bay Area would be hit with
some of the highest rates. Rates in part of Hernando County would jump by
323 percent; in Tampa, sinkhole policies would increase by a stunning
Pasco County, long considered to be en especially active sink hole area,
policies are already expensive, averaging $1,300.00. Those policies could
increase to $4,400.00, a 201 percent increase.
going to be a deluge of empty houses in west Pasco,"
according to Allan Schwartz. He is president of the River
Crossing Home Owners Association. Schwartz said his
359-home subdivision has weathered the foreclosure storm
well. He is not so confident he and his neighbors can
survive the Citizens' rate increase.
just walk away...what can you do?"
Schwartz spent much of
Wednesday on the phone trying to reach out to state lawmakers who voted in
favor of Senate Bill 408, the law allowing Citizens to ask for the
whopping rate increase.
He had little luck speaking to
anyone to defend the astronomical rate increase.
"It hurts me being a
leader of a community that you know is in trouble and you can't do
anything," he said.
Governor Rick Scott strongly
supported SB 408. Late Wednesday. He issued a statement saying in part
"...This proposal is the unfortunate result of politicians playing
politics for too long keeping rates artificially low."
Typically, rate increases in
excess of 15 percent are subject to a series of public hearings. A
spokeswoman for the Office of Insurance Regulation said the rate request
has not been formally submitted.
However, those who oppose the
suggested rates can contact the OIR at www.floir.com