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Common sense can ease crisis

Letters to the Editor
Published January 9, 2007


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Common sense can ease crisis

It does not take a genius to know that homeowner insurance has become a crisis for the future of Florida. If no improvement is made, Florida is facing an exodus and a collapse of sales of private homes. It is time for extreme measures.

It is somewhat encouraging that Gov. Charlie Crist has called a special session of the Legislature to address this issue. Since I do not pretend to be a genius and none of our legislators appear to be either, I am not hesitating to make the following common sense suggestions for their consideration:

Authorize Citizens Insurance to become a full-risk insurer in competition with the privately owned insurance companies. Several of the large insurance carriers in Florida are willing to write auto insurance but not homeowner insurance. Allow Citizens to write auto insurance in addition to homeowner insurance. Prohibit auto insurance carriers from writing only auto insurance. Require them to offer homeowner coverage to any of their auto insured. Apparently auto insurance is profitable, and homeowner insurance is obviously not.

Have the state of Florida become the reinsurance carrier for Citizens, at reduced rates, which should result in lower premiums for basic homeowner coverage by Citizens. This may sound like socialism, but this crisis requires desperate solutions.

Request our U.S. senators and representatives file a bill in Congress that provides reimbursement to homeowner insurers for excessive losses caused by catastrophic storms, such as Katrina, which exceed their reserves. This would apply to all 50 states and would spread the cost of the losses nationwide, instead of upon an unfortunate state such as California, Louisiana or Florida. Let experts recommend the formula. We are now in effect doing this for Iraq, so why not at home?

Forbid mortgagors from requiring sinkhole coverage on future mortgages and allow a homeowner to assume the risk of sinkholes at a reduced premium.

Allow Citizens to charge lower rates for homeowner coverage than private insurers, which is now forbidden by statute.

I would invite all Florida taxpayers - including those who are retired from the insurance industry and can hopefully speak with knowledge and without prejudice - to make their suggestions to the Legislature.

Thomas D. Dolan, New Port Richey

Insurance relief? Don't count on it Jan. 7, Andrew Skerritt column

People need to fight for fairness

Andrew Skerritt, are you kidding me? Epicenter for sinkholes, ground zero for hurricanes! Where have you been living? Definitely not in Florida! Sinkholes have never been an issue until the lawyers figured out it's a fast way to make a buck!

Do your homework, Skerritt. The sinkhole issue is not about the fact that homes are sinking into the ground at an alarming rate but that there is no true definition of what a sinkhole actually is. A sinkhole is not simple cracks in your walls and ceilings, and the law should be clear about that. As for hurricanes, it is painfully obvious that you know nothing about hurricanes and have possibly been overly influenced by the insurance industry.

The insurance industry has enjoyed record profits in Florida for many years without any hurricanes and then when we get a few, now insurers say they're broke? Give me a break! Where did those 30, 40, 50 years of pure profit go? Even with the hurricanes, they boasted of record profits.

Now as for you telling the people to not fight for their right for lower affordable insurance rates, shame on you! You are encouraging defeat, complacency and all-around laziness. You want the people to just sit back and concede defeat on the insurance industry? Not me!

Let me also inform you why only 17 percent of Florida homes are built to "current" code. That is because 83 percent were built before 1990. Funny how those old homes have withstood years of storms and are still standing.

It is easy to sit behind a desk and write stories about how bad things are, but it is hard to get people off their butts to do something positive about it. I will not be pushed out of Florida without a good fight, and I hope the people of this state do the same!

I find it more than sad that the Times would allow such a negative story be published by a columnist who is obviously ill-informed on the issues of insurance.

Ginny Stevans, president, HAC Florida Inc.

Insurance relief? Don't count on it Jan. 7, Andrew Skerritt column

It's hard to relax at current rates

How can Andrew Skerritt tell people to "relax, and lower your expectations" when people are in fear of losing their homes due to the high cost of homeowner insurance? I guess Mr. Skerritt makes enough money to afford these outrageous rates. Maybe he might be a little bit more sympathetic with those that are "ranting and raving" in Pasco and Hernando if he were living on a fixed income and had seen his rates go up 300 to 400 percent.

I am one of those people he refers to who will be driving up to Tallahassee for the special legislative session. I feel my voice and presence will make a difference. What if civil rights activists who marched on state capitals were told "save your money" and "lower your expectations"? Being hopeful, optimistic, and working to fight for change does not make you a fool.

Vic Deneuve, Hudson

Insurance relief? Don't count on it Jan. 7, Andrew Skerritt column

Nature hasn't been that unkind

Pasco and Hernando the epicenter for sinkholes? Maybe had Andrew Skerritt done research, he might find we have greedy lawyers who will gladly represent you if you find cracks in your home.

How many homes has Mr. Skerritt seen gobbled up in Pasco or Hernando? And as far as hurricanes, how long has it been since Pasco and Hernando have seen a hurricane hit? I believe it is over 100 years.

Many groups and people have been diligently working at trying to get legislation to change the laws on insurance as that is what is needed. Citizens is not the big bad wolf. Our legislators who have written laws that allow insurance companies to make huge profits are the wolves.

We must demand changes in laws that allow insurance companies to come to Florida and not sell homeowner insurance and just write the very profitable auto insurance. If something is not done soon, it will ruin our economy. Businesses are suffering just as much as homeowners are.

Please do not let one columnist discourage you from fighting to get affordable insurance rates. One might think he was working for the insurance industry and not the St. Petersburg Times.

Joy D. Timmons, Holiday

 

Wal-Mart impact is still in doubt

The Beacon Woods board of directors was faced with a difficult problem. The Pasco Development Review Committee had approved a plan for Wal-Mart that included a right-turn only exit onto Beacon Woods Drive along with many other concessions. We were then asked to approve an added left turn into Wal-Mart across Beacon Woods Drive. Wal-Mart would have to go back to the committee with an agreement or without it. Without an agreement, we didn't know what any new site plan would be. The county engineer supports full access onto Beacon Woods Drive. Many fear this would increase traffic through our community.

With the agreement, we maintained the current plan along with assurances for the continued right-turn-only exit only onto Beacon Woods Drive and a commitment for funding for a cul-de-sac if allowed and desired in the future. Commissioner Jack Mariano has put together a sidewalk program. The Beacon Woods Civic Association is organizing requests for speed tables. A legal opinion from the Pasco County Attorney's Office explains that the current traffic is not enough to warrant closing off Beacon Woods Drive.

Even if the cul-de-sac were a current option, it is a drastic measure that should be pursued carefully. A traffic study reviewed by a traffic consultant to whom the Beacon Woods Civic Association paid over $22,000 indicates that Wal-Mart is expected to add only about 68 trips to the existing traffic flow from Beacon Woods during the peak hour: "33 in trips and 35 out trips."

We should see if we actually have a severe traffic problem before pushing for a cul-de-sac. We also should consider the impact on Majestic Boulevard, access for emergency vehicles, and whether speed tables would alleviate any increased traffic problem.

Visit the official Beacon Woods Civic Association Web site at www.bwcai.org and my personal Web site www.BeaconWoodsTruth.com or call me at (727) 514-2135 for more details.

Ann Bunting, president, Beacon Woods Civic Association

 

Schools need security systems

I do not understand why the Pasco School Board does not have security systems in the schools. The cost of a system has to be much less than the cost to replace the things that are stolen, as well as repairing the damage to the buildings. I live near the new Longleaf Elementary School. It has large parking lot lights that could be on at night. I know some of the homeowners do not like the lights on all night, but it would prevent break-ins.

When the folks who break into the schools are found, if they are kids, the parents should be made to pay for the damage and the kids should be punished to the limit of the law. The parents should not be allowed to pass the cost onto the homeowner policies.

I believe a monitored security system would be money well spent.

Bob Ridings, New Port Richey

 

[Last modified January 9, 2007, 07:53:46]


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