There is nothing as unpredictable as the weather… except property insurance. We may not have control over the weather, but property insurance we should and must. For this reason, much of my time since session ended has been spent addressing property insurance and how it affects the people of my coastal district.

Property owners have already heard enough speeches about the problems; they are seeking solutions to their individual needs and concerns. In order to find solutions, I organized a panel of distinguished experts to participate in a series of workshops. The format of the workshops was tailored so people could speak one-on-one to the panelists and get direct answers to their questions.

Senator Sachs and several of the panelists helping some constituents with their property insurance issue

Senator Sachs and several of the panelists helping some constituents with their property insurance issue

With the majority of property owners in my district being enrolled in the state-run insurer, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, it was vital that a representative from that company be present and ready to respond to questions as part of the panel. With their representative cancelling at the last minute, I was genuinely frustrated. With one phone call to the President and CEO of Citizens, Barry Gilway, our problem was solved. He agreed to participate and address the issues the people of my district faced about their insurance.

After four workshops, two in Broward and two in Palm Beach, and listening to dozens of property owners about their concerns, three things have become clear.

1. There needs to be transparency in the process Citizens uses to transfer their policies to private insurers. In Broward and Palm Beach counties alone, 40,000 policy holders will be getting “take-out” letters from Citizens telling them a private insurer will automatically take over their policy on November 5, unless the policy holder declines in writing.

2. There must be transparency in the ratings process and vetting of the private insurers that seek to take over policies from Citizens. Despite all the issues with Citizens and its policy holders, at least everyone knew it was a not-for-profit, government-run company. New companies that Floridians may not be familiar with will add to the uncertainty of our insurance market.

3. We must take steps to ensure people understand the “clearinghouse” process which will take effect January 1, 2014. In the clearinghouse, any Citizens policy holder up for renewal could be forced into a private insurance policy, if a private company is willing to write the policy below the Citizens rate. When the clearinghouse goes into effect, policy holders will not have the ability to opt-out. They must go with the lower rate from the private company.

Uncertainty in the insurance market can be devastating to our economy. People purchase insurance for peace of mind, and the current insurance market is falling short. My job as State Senator is to help bring certainty to an already chaotic marketplace.

I want to thank everyone who was involved in making the workshops possible. Thank you to the citizens who attended, all the volunteers, the city officials who participated, and the knowledgeable panelists.

 

Boca Raton Workshop

Senator Sachs with some of the panelists at the Boca Raton workshop

Senator Sachs with some of the panelists at the Boca Raton workshop

Fort Lauderdale Workshop

Panelist introductions at the Fort Lauderdale workshop

Panelist introductions at the Fort Lauderdale workshop

Delray Beach Workshop

Senator Sachs speaking with consitituents about their concerns at the Delray Beach workshop

Senator Sachs speaking with consitituents about their concerns at the Delray Beach workshop