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Big insurance thrives, but government ignores the facts

Letters to the Editor
Published March 25, 2005

Re: Insurers' profitable perfect storm, March 21.

So State Farm upped its profit by 89 percent last year? This even after four hurricanes? How nice! After reading that, people should be marching on Tallahassee wanting insurance premiums returned. But they won't find it on the front page. Of course it's buried deep. And this incredible profitability still does not appear on Jeb Bush's radar. Why is that, I wonder?

I, for one, firmly believe the word "crisis" belongs in any news story concerning insurance companies, rate increases and, of course "tort reform." But the crisis we should be reading about is the absence of facts and figures to support the agenda of the tort reformers/insurance company lapdogs. No facts support this political solution to a problem that does not exist. There is a wholesale governmental refusal to recognize and talk about the truth.

Big insurance is just fine. Still, our government ignores the facts. Lawyer-bashing gets attention. You should be addressing the liars. They are not the lawyers. Junk lawsuits? The real junk is in the agenda.

-- Mark S. Roman, Clearwater

Promote insurance competition

Re: Insurers' profitable perfect storm.

I read with interest Robert Trigaux's column noting that some of the big insurance companies are profitable on a national basis. That's interesting, but it's irrelevant to Florida's problem.

The fact that property insurers are making money in other states is separate from what's happening here in Florida. When I pay my homeowners insurance, I don't expect my premiums to help subsidize earthquake losses in California, tornado losses in Kansas or ice storm losses in Maine. Nor should Floridians expect homeowners in other states to subsidize our hurricanes.

Homeowners want property insurance to be more affordable. But we also want lawmakers to improve the property insurance market and attract more insurers to our state. We need to find ways to attract more competition, which will lower prices and give us more choices.

I've read that some insurers are urging legislators to make it easier for insurers to draw money from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, or "Cat" Fund. That makes sense, because part of our premium goes into this fund and it is supposed to help us when hurricanes strike. Lawmakers should make the Cat Fund money more available, because that's one way to help improve the market and bring in more insurers.

-- Dennis McCowin, Seminole

A picture of corporate greed

Re: Insurers' profitable perfect storm.

The numbers in this story clearly show corporate greed. Since this information is easily available to everyone, they also show that the large insurance companies are much more important than the average Floridian to the politicians in Tallahassee.

Along these same corporate greed lines, the oil administration in Washington tries to make us believe that the price we pay at the gas pump is strictly due to the increased price of crude oil. Simple bookkeeping along with simple math tells us that if a company increases its revenue solely to offset its increased expenses, then its profits would remain flat. Yet the major oil companies' profits and stock prices have soared higher, much like those of the insurance companies. Gee, another lie from those who claim to be "moral Christian folk" up in Washington.

Will the voters remember this?

-- Dan Favero, St. Petersburg

A celebration misrepresented

I am writing in response to your editorial titled Ignorant or unethical? published on March 21. I wish to set the record straight regarding an engagement reception honoring my fiance and me, and attended by my colleagues. I felt compelled to write since I did not have the opportunity to present the facts of the situation to your editorial writer prior to the publication of your editorial.

I did not ask anyone to have this event for us. My fellow senator, Alex Diaz de la Portilla, graciously offered to host a reception at his home to introduce my fiance and congratulate us on our engagement, as he had done previously for another senator. At no time did I seek any sponsorship or funding for the event. In fact, I was unaware of who the sponsors were until the host publicly recognized them at the end of the event, after which I briefly thanked them as well.

In addition, to link this celebration of my engagement with the ethical concerns of another elected official is inaccurate and misleading. In no way, shape or form are they even remotely related.

Over the years, I have been recognized by my peers for outstanding performance and high ethical standards in both my professional business and public service, and will continue to do so.

Thank you for the opportunity to clarify and present the complete facts.

-- Sen. Victor D. Crist, Tampa

Focus on the Family took no money

Re: Indian gaming scandal a crowning achievement for sleazo-cons, by David Brooks, March 23.

David Brooks asserts that Focus on the Family accepted gambling money from lobbyist Jack Abramoff to fight a competitive casino. Sorry. Untrue. We don't know Abramoff and haven't taken a dime from him. Had Brooks asked, we would have told him. But then that would be journalism, wouldn't it?

Focus opposes gambling - in any guise, in any community. In the last five years, we have worked on this in more than 30 states. Dr. James Dobson's service on the National Gambling Impact Study Commission brought home the devastation gambling leaves in its wake.

Several times Dr. Dobson has blistered politicians of both parties - by name - for their egregious acceptance of gambling money. Brooks could have discovered this with a little research. He chose instead to engage in the journalistic equivalent of a drive-by shooting.

-- Tom Minnery, vice president, Government & Public Policy, Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Let Terri rest in peace

Re: Terri Schiavo.

As tragic as it is to stand by as Terri is allowed to be promoted to glory from her permanent vegetative state, how much more cruel would it be to keep her trapped in a minimally conscious state? The biased people that are arguing that she has a functioning cortex, are creating a ghastly picture in the minds of anyone unsure of her status. May she rest in peace and quickly.

-- Ernie Agnew, Gulfport

Don't let her starve

My heart and prayers go out to Terri Schiavo and her family. It is wrong to starve a person to death. As long as her heart is still beating she is still alive.

In my opinion, she should have her feeding tube put back in. Why let her die by starvation? May God have mercy on those who will let this happen. They will need it when it's time for them to meet their maker.

-- Susan Ouellette, Port Richey

[Last modified March 25, 2005, 01:00:17]

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