|There should be a stricter definition
of sinkholes, she and others said, and a cap on what lawyers can make
from those claims.
Steve Burgess, the state's insurance consumer advocate, questioned the potential conflicts of interest posed by his office's position under the authority of the chief financial officer. He said his office might function better under the Cabinet, "although that perhaps would generate its own set of criticisms," he acknowledged.
Burgess also said the insurance advocate needs more authority to be effective. The consumer advocate can recommend that the Office of Insurance Regulation challenge a rate increase, but doesn't have the explicit authority to do so himself.
Some committee members were skeptical of Burgess' plea, and asked if the consumer advocate had ever recommended an increase over an insurance company's proposed rate hike. (He did, one time in the early '90s.)
"It's pretty easy to go out and say, 'Hey, this rate's too high, don't allow it,' " said state Sen. J.D. Alexander. But doing that, he said, will chase insurers out of Florida.
The Reform Committee was authorized by the governor at the end of June and is chaired by Lt. Gov. Jennings. Of the 15 members, at least 10 have ties to the insurance industry.
This is the committee's sixth public meeting since August, and the only one in the bay area. The meetings are meant to follow the governor's instructions to solicit public comment, though five of the planned nine are in Tallahassee.
Three hours into the meeting, committee member Barbara Weese didn't seem convinced problems were being solved.
The point of the cs to be done to get insurance to the people."ommittee, said the retired schoolteacher, isn't just to make insurers more accountable, but to make insurance more affordable. "The point we're missing," she said, "is something has to be done to get insurance to the people."
About 400 property owners took part Thursday evening in a lively town hall discussion on finding solutions to Florida’s insurance crisis.
Among the ideas suggested by five panelists and speakers from the audience at the Hilton Hotel at Carillon Park in St. Petersburg: