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Florida Gov. Crist Attacks Insurers Doing Business in His State

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist escalated his attacks against property insurers last week, saying he favors calling insurance company executives to testify under oath before the...
August 6, 2007

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist escalated his attacks against property insurers last week, saying he favors calling insurance company executives to testify under oath before the Legislature about why they're not lowering prices for consumers.

"It's a new day, and they're not getting their way anymore," Crist said after a Cabinet meeting in Tallahassee. "They should not be able to run this Capitol anymore." The Republican governor's remarks came on the same day that state insurance officials said they've rejected a proposed 7 percent rate reduction by State Farm Florida Insurance Co., saying the company should push prices even lower.  Meanwhile, 36 of 47 insurers are seeking increases averaging 37.3 percent, derailing promises made by Crist and legislators to the state's homeowners earlier this year that rates would decline from 25 percent to 40 percent.

Crist said the state's lawyers are looking into whether insurers are breaking the law by not offering lower rates according to provisions of the statute he signed earlier this year. The Legislature in a special session agreed to allow companies to buy cheaper reinsurance, if they pass those savings on to consumers. Crist suggested the industry may be acting in collusion to keep rates high, promising to subpoena more documents from insurance companies to challenge their rate filings. He said some firms are "gaming" the state.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) issued a statement responding to Gov. Christ's remarks. "The only game being played is by our governor, gambling on the future of Florida by not adequately planning for catastrophic storms, leaving our families and homes vulnerable," the PCI statement says in part. "The only way for insurers and regulators to work together is to stop pointing fingers, stop making politically motivated accusations, and start rolling up our sleeves to find a solution that will deliver stronger homes, safer families and a competitive environment that results in reasonable rates."

Angry Crist Wants Insurance Executives to Testify (Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel 8/1/07)
 
PCI Responds to Fla. Gov. Crist's Comments (PCI 7/31/07)