Documents show Florida Gov. Rick Scott behind a push to kill Citizens Insurance

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27 April 2011
Gov. Rick Scott has secretly pushed to kill Citizens Property Insurance before his first term ends, a goal that alarmed even representatives of private insurance companies seeking to remove Citizens as a competitor, the Herald-Tribune has learned.

In a February meeting with the industry lobbyists writing bills for the upcoming legislative session, documents show that Governor Scott's top staff sought to force the 1.3 million property owners who now have a policy from the state-run carrier back into the private market, "phasing out Citizens completely."

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 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.

The concept of shutting down Florida's largest and, at the moment, best-capitalized insurance company outraged lawmakers whose constituents rely on the public company.

"He's clueless. The governor is clueless as to what is happening throughout the state, and the burden on homeowners and condominium owners and business owners," said Sen. Mike Fasano, a New Port Richey Republican who opposes most of the insurance legislation offered by the industry this year.

-- Herald Tribune

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