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Governor Rick Scott Demands Immediate Action from President Obama to Fix Unfair Flood Insurance Rate Hikes

CLEARWATER, FL Flanked by local leaders, as well as Florida realtors and homeowners, Governor Rick Scott today called on President Obama to fix the unfair National Flood Insurance Protection (NFIP) rate hike. The rate hikes will disproportionately affect Florida families and could harm Florida's real estate market. The law, signed by President Obama, hurts homeowners by removing the rate "glide path" for flood insurance.

Governor Scott said, "We are calling on President Obama to take immediate action to prevent these flood insurance rate hikes on Florida's families, and families across the state. This is unfair and could devastate the Tampa Bay area's real estate market. The buck ultimately stops with the President. The time for leadership is now."

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster said, "I would like to thank Governor Rick Scott for working to end these unfair rate increases. It's important that Washington D.C. understands that the families of St. Petersburg are fed up with outrageous rate hikes."

Senator Jeff Brandes said, "These changes to flood insurance are disastrous to hardworking families and will have serious consequences for our recovering economy. Florida deserves better from our elected officials in Washington."

Senator Jack Latvala said, "The flood insurance rate hikes by the federal government are simply unfair to our communities, and it's a problem that needs to be addressed by the federal government now – and not later."

Pam Dubov, Pinellas County Property Appraiser, said, "Thousands of homeowners who live in modest homes and who are not located on the waterfront will be affected by these disastrous new flood insurance rates. Not only will they be required to pay higher rates every year, but it is also quite likely that they will see the market value of their homes decline dramatically. This law must be amended to give consideration to the issues of affordability and fairness."

Representative Ed Hooper said, "I would like to thank Governor Scott for his commitment to the families of Pinellas County. We need the federal government to help fix this problem so the families of this area don't have to bear this unfair rate hikes."

Representative Larry Ahern said, "The decision by the federal government to raise flood insurance rates will impact our economy in the Tampa Bay area. Many families were broadsided by this news, and we need Washington to fix the mess they've created. I want to thank Governor Scott for putting much needed attention on this matter."

Republican Kathleen Peters said, "The National Flood Insurance Program rate hikes place an unfair burden on the Tampa Bay Area. It's important that we join Governor Scott today in calling on immediate federal action to fix this potentially devastating blow to our housing market and economy."

Representative Dwight Dudley said, "This is a crucial issue for all Floridians, especially the hard-working, middle-class families that will be affected the most. Without action by Congress, any economic progress that has been made will be thwarted or reversed. We need to act in a swift, bipartisan manner to prevent this looming disaster."

Diane Nelson, Pinellas County Tax Collector, said, "The Flood Insurance Reform Act has the potential to devastate Pinellas County and the entire state of Florida. Having heard from numerous homeowners across the county this past week, I can tell you that people are worried about the cost of their insurance and what will happen if they cannot afford it. These are average homeowners who could be forced out of their houses if Congress fails to act. Additionally, we are just now starting to see the Tampa Bay real estate market beginning to revive, and the effects of this law could stifle any hope of a real estate recovery in Florida. I urge Congress to stop the implementation of the flood insurance reform bill."

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Governor Rick Scott Urges Senators to Avert Increase in Flood Insurance Premiums

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Governor Rick Scott yesterday sent the following letter to Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, urging them to take action to avoid imminent increases in National Flood Insurance premiums. The full text of the letter is below and available in a PDF here.

September 17, 2013

The Honorable Bill Nelson
United States Senate
716 Senate Hart Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Marco Rubio
United States Senate
284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senators Nelson and Rubio:
I am deeply troubled by the potential impact to Florida's economy from imminent changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). I urge you to adjust the NFIP's coming rate hikes on Florida's families.
Under current law, the sale of any property, or lapse of its policy, removes the rate "glide path" and forces the new or current owner to immediately pay full-risk rates. In cases where new maps move a property into a flood zone, homeowners may find it impossible to sell their properties to a new owner who will be shocked with the massive premium increases required to secure a mortgage. This unfair consequence could devastate parts of Florida's real estate market, stymie Florida's economic recovery, and diminish the state's tax base. Furthermore, the NFIP's finances may not improve as properties fail to change hands and participation in the program fails to materialize.
This cannot be what Congress intended.
Over the past 35 years, Florida's families have paid into the NFIP over $16 billion, four times more than the amount they have received in claim reimbursements. We have done more than our fair share to make the NFIP financially sound. In addition, Florida's superior coastal building code standards and leading efforts in the area of hurricane loss mitigation have further reduced exposure for the NFIP. Florida's rates should commensurately reflect these important risk-mitigating factors.
The House of Representatives has already passed an amendment to the Flood Insurance Reform Act this past June, mandating a one-year delay on rate increases. I urge you to take immediate legislative action to ensure that the NFIP is improved in a way that is fair for Florida's families.

Sincerely,

Rick Scott
Governor

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Conviction of Former Allstate Employee in Insurance Scam

  • Published in Crime

TALLAHASSEE  Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the conviction of Yarden Lee Bracero, 39, a former Allstate employee in Jacksonville for diverting claims payments for her own personal use. Bracero pled guilty to one count of scheme to defraud and three counts of identity theft and was sentenced to a mandatory three years in prison and ordered to pay full restitution.

"Fraud schemes like these impact Floridians throughout the state by driving up our insurance rates," CFO Atwater said. "I applaud our investigator and industry partners for tracking down this fraudster and bringing her to justice."

An investigation by the Department of Financial Services' Division of Insurance Fraud and the Allstate internal investigation unit revealed that Bracero used her position as a Benefits Operation Analyst to create false claim information and divert funds from individual critical illness insurance policies to her own personal bank accounts. Some of the policies included employees of Home Depot and Wal-Mart. Bracero submitted false claims on the five policies using Allstate claim forms and altered the names on medical diagnosis claim documentation from other valid Allstate policies in support of the scheme.

The charges against Bracero were prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Joe Licandro of the 4th Judicial Circuit in Jacksonville.

Anyone with information of suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $342,000 to more than 50 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.

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