Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Heritage Property and Casualty Insurance Co. Scores Citizens Policies

Via Daily Kos: the Tampa Bay Times reports Heritage Property and Casualty Insurance Co. donated $110,000 to Gov. Rick Scott's re-election campaign 2 months ago. Heritage is now set to $52 million to take 60,000 policies from the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Scott's office claims that the campaign contributions have nothing to do with Citizens decisions to sell policies to Heritage.

Scott's office said the governor played no role in the $52 million deal at Citizens, and campaign contributions were not a factor. "We expect (the board) to approve or disapprove of this risk transfer based solely on its merits," said Melissa Sellers, a spokeswoman for Scott. "Anything short of that would harm Citizens policyholders and Florida residents who back Citizens policies."

Apparently, even Republican state Rep. Frank Artiles isn't buying the spin.

"Citizens' board continues to fall prey to Tallahassee lobbyists who cook up these get rich funding schemes," said Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami.

Scott previously tried to kill Citizens. The Gainesville Sun reported that Scott proposal was too radical for private insurers.

The industry lobbyists protested that Florida carriers could not absorb all of Citizens' business, records show. The gap would force many Florida property owners to turn to the unregulated surplus lines market, where rates are unchecked and policies are not backed by a state guarantee fund.

A lobbyist who attended the meeting advised others by email that Gov. Scott knew about the gap, but was not bothered.

"He doesn't seem to care whether they are insured in the voluntary market or surplus lines," the lobbyist wrote.

Citizens is far from perfects. Citizen executives have used public money to pay for lavish expenses. Former Citizens executive R. Paul Hulsebusch accepted a motorcycle from Quantum Claim Service. To say Citizens is dysfunctional would be an understatement. Scott selling policies for campaign contributions doesn't help matters.

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