Bipartisanship Needed to Solve Windstorm Insurance Crisis

EDITORIAL -- The Miami SunPost

Published  August 24, 2006

There is an election coming up. Probably the worst time to call for bipartisanship in the Florida Legislature. But when it comes to homeowners becoming bankrupt from ever-increasing insurance premiums — or losing their insurance protection altogether — such a request should not be out of the question.

Last week, though, it appeared that legislators from Miami-Dade County were ready to use the windstorm crisis as fodder for the election. Under the banner of the Florida Republican Party’s “100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future,” a town hall meeting on gathering ideas to solve the state’s windstorm insurance crisis was held last Saturday at Coral Gables Senior High. “It’s getting to the point where it will paralyze the economy of this county and the state of Florida,” Republican State Rep. Julio Robaina said at an earlier meeting. Meanwhile, Democratic State Rep. Dan Gelber accused Republicans of ignoring viable ideas to reform the insurance industry. “They’ve turned their back on many good ideas,” Gelber said.

However, when homeowners spoke of premiums going up 600 percent in one year and state officials talked of insurance companies dropping as many as 200,000 policies statewide, it appeared Miami-Dade lawmakers were starting to get on the same page. At one point, Republican state reps. Robaina and Juan Zapata voiced the same frustrations Gelber had over certain lawmakers from other parts of the Sunshine State who refuse to allow meaningful reforms in the industry.

In the past, members of Miami-Dade’s legislative delegation have put aside party rivalry and worked together on important issues ranging from development guidelines to education. Well, what could be more important than legislation mandating affordable homeowner’s insurance?

Will Saturday’s meeting be the beginning of a movement by lawmakers from Miami-Dade, and other parts of the state, to enact legislative reforms? The SunPost hopes so. Only the insurance industry will gain from continuous bickering and endless posturing. Partisanship at this point won’t even win votes as homeowners will be too busy looking for new homes or finding second jobs to pay for their higher premiums.