Rick Scott: Let's Wait for Inspector's Report on Citizens
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While the president of Citizens Property Insurance took the blame earlier this week for dismantling an internal investigation team, Gov. Rick Scott said Friday he’d prefer to wait before commenting until reports he’s ordered into the state-backed agency are completed.
“It’s hard to respond until you know all the facts,” Scott said after appearing at the Florida Chamber of Commerce Insurance Summit in Orlando.
“The right thing is for the inspector general to come out with her report.”
There is no timetable on the report that Scott ordered from Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel after it was reported the Citizens integrity team was scuttled while investigating internal issues, including allegations of sexual harassment, indecent drunken behavior in public, questionable payments and falsified documents.
Citizens President and CEO Barry Gilway, who appeared at the summit at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn on Thursday, again strongly insinuated that the past problems within the agency were being magnified in the media and that most had been found to be baseless.
As for the coming legislative session, Scott said Citizens and legislators need to focus on educating customers of the state-backed insurance provider about the risks of the coverage, rather than push for a law that would allow Citizens to exceed its 10 percent cap on annual rate increases.
He noted that a chamber study showed most customers are unaware that they could be hit with a tax that could reach four figures to cover damages from a storm, regardless of where in the state the storm hit.
“Someone in Tampa could pay if the storm hit in Miami,” Scott said.
Also, the state needs to crack down on fraud in sinkhole coverage, which has helped push up premiums, he said.
A push has been under way to allow Citizens, which is trying to shed many of its 1.48 million polices into the private market, to exceed the cap to bring its rates more in line with private firms.
Gilway noted Thursday that if Citizens ended the inadequacy in Hernando County, rates would need to jump 230 percent, while customers in Monroe County would see a 73 percent increase, Pasco County would grow 60 percent and Miami-Dade would get a 20.5 percent hike.
Reach Jim Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 215-9889.