Lawmakers bring back insurance options


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Rick Scott vetoed legislation earlier this year that lawmakers said would protect customers in the state run citizens property insurance corporation. The governor's veto pen has not deterred state representatives from bringing the bill back.

The Republican sponsors of the bill that was vetoed earlier this year have yet to officially support the revived bill. The Democratic sponsors said they have reached out to the governor's office and are hoping he flip-flops on the issue.

Citizens Property Insurance shed more than a million policies in the past four years. Less than 600,000 Floridians are enrolled in the state's "insurer of last resort." But lawmakers want to make sure the remaining policy holders are protected.

"They've run over consumers for way too long, and the time has come that they have rules that are made by the legislature," Rep. Dwight Dudley said.

Two Democrats are pushing a bill that would stop "takeout insurers" from soliciting customers more than once every six months and allow Floridians to return to citizens if a private insurer jacks up premiums after a switch.

"There's a long history that we have with these takeout companies," Rep. Jose Rodriguez said. "They're small, they're of recent origin, and really, the taxpayers are on the hook on the back end when a lot of these companies go belly up."

An identical bill passed last year unanimously out of both chambers but it was vetoed by the governor.

Scott said at the time he was worried the bill would create more of a reliance on the state-run insurer.

So what's the citizens' take on it?

"Well, we supported the bill last year, and now we're going to be watching as we move forward here and we'll be working with all stakeholders," said Citizens Property Insurance representative Michael Peltier.

Part of the bill also includes Citizens providing uniform mailers to customers. The company said it is overhauling mailers this month anyway. They said the letters have been mistaken for junk mail in the past.