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Politics

Insurance crisis personal for dozens of lawmakers

By JENNIFER LIBERTO and ALEX LEARY
Published January 21, 2007


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TALLAHASSEE - Republican Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, faced a $4,000 insurance rate hike due on Christmas when his Miami home was dumped into Citizens Property Insurance Corp. by his private insurer.

Rep. Ray Sansom's rates more than doubled after Hurricane Ivan damaged his roof and fence in 2004.

"I was so grateful Allstate kept me," the Destin Republican said.

Sen. Don Gaetz of Niceville and Sen. Jim King of Jacksonville, both Republicans, are skipping insurance on their waterfront vacation properties, because the policy prices quoted were so astronomical.

This weekend, 32 lawmakers are trying to resolve an insurance crisis that affects them personally.

All but a few have seen their rates go up. Ten lawmakers and House Speaker Marco Rubio, or a third of the group, have at least one insurance policy with Citizens. Seven lawmakers, or 20 percent, had hurricane damage and received claim checks for the 2004 and 2005 storm seasons.

While the worst of their situations are not as bad as those of many of their constituents, most know a bit about big insurance bills and hurricanes first hand.

"It's a big deal when you sit down every month and go through the bills and have to make decisions about priorities," said Rep. Trey Traviesa, R-Tampa. Allstate canceled his policy and he had to fight to get them to take him back, which they did while doubling his bill to $4,500.

Rep. Stan Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, is a Citizens customer who had to rent a home for about a year after the 2004 season.

"Frances knocked part of the roof off and Jeanne finished the job. We had to completely re-do the house," said Mayfield, whose windstorm rates increased from $4,500 in 2003 to $9,500 in 2006.

Fast Facts:

Who has Citizens?

Lawmakers working on insurance legislation who have at least one policy with Citizens:

House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Miami

Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale

House Minority Leader Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach

Rep. Stan Mayfield, R-Vero Beach

Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami

Rep. Jack Seiler, D-Wilton Manors

Sen. Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach

Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville

Rep. Franklin Sands, D-Weston

Rep. Priscilla Taylor, D-West Palm Beach

Sen. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami

[Last modified January 21, 2007, 01:19:55]


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