Davis: Repeal law on hurricane water damage

Published June 9, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - Windstorm insurance companies would have to cover water damage caused by hurricanes under a proposal Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis plans to release today, part of a multipronged proposal to solve the problems facing hurricane insurance customers in Florida.

The Tampa Bay-area congressman also will propose giving the governor's office a more direct role in decisions on property insurance rates and making it harder for companies to dump longtime policyholders.

He also favors broadening loan programs for upgrading housing to make it more hurricane-sturdy and more scrutiny of Citizens Property Insurance, the state-run insurer for people who can't get private policies.

Davis, who is vying with state Sen. Rod Smith of Alachua for the Democratic nomination for governor, said he would push for a law requiring insurance companies to give customers a year's notice before dropping them if they have paid their premiums for three consecutive years and have not filed any claims.

Perhaps Davis' most controversial proposal would repeal a 2005 law that clarified that wind policies don't cover flood damage. The law passed after a 2004 season when many Floridians' hurricane claims were denied by their wind insurer because the damage was deemed to be caused by flooding.

The insurance industry would oppose reversing that law, said Sam Miller, a spokesman for the Florida Insurance Council. He said without it, rates would go up even more.

Davis said his main worry is that flood insurers may blame certain damage on wind while wind insurers claim water is responsible.

Davis also proposes to put an advocate for policyholders in rate cases under the governor's office. There is a consumer advocate in the process, but he operates independently, though appointed by the state's elected chief financial officer.