Heartland Institute Reacts to Defeat of Surplus Lines Takeout Bill in Florida Legislature

Published March 6, 2012

TALLAHASSEE — Insurance policy experts at The Heartland Institute sharply criticized the Florida House of Representatives’ decision earlier today to reject a bill that would have reduced the liabilities that state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corporation imposes on taxpayers.

The proposal, HB 245, better known as the Surplus Lines Takeout Bill, would have allowed the “surplus lines” insurers–regulated under different rules than “admitted market” companies–to offer their services to people who currently have no options besides Florida Citizens. The bill, withdrawn by its sponsors after a procedural vote on an amendment failed, would have reduced taxpayer liabilities by millions of dollars while delivering lower insurance rates to many state residents.

The following statements from insurance experts at The Heartland Institute may be used for attribution. For additional comments, please use the contact information below.

“This bill would have given more options to Florida policyholders who currently have no other choice but to insure their homes with the government-run Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.

“For decades, surplus lines insurers have been providing reliable coverage to Floridians, and this bill would have merely allowed Citizens policyholders the option of purchasing their coverage through them. This would have reduced the overall exposure of Citizens, transferred that risk away from taxpayers, and decreased the likelihood or severity of every Floridian having to pay post-hurricane taxes. Unfortunately the legislature today opted against expanding consumer choice.”

Christian Cámara
Florida Director
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“The surplus lines takeout bill would have provided one additional option to Florida consumers trapped in the dangerously over-exposed insurer of last resort. With the withdrawal of this bill tens of thousands of Citizens policyholders will continue be exposed to policyholder surcharges of up to 45 percent. I don’t believe most Citizens policyholders understand this reality.

“Worse still is the assessment risk that will now continue for millions of non-Citizens policyholders in Florida. As for me, I’ve had about all the legislature’s consumer protection that I can afford.”

Don Brown
Senior Fellow, The Heartland Institute
Former State Legislator
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 28-year-old national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, DC. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.