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Why You Might Not Have to Participate in the Coming Florida Home Insurance Rate Hikes

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unemployment fund
Image by USDAgov
From across the horseshoe shaped town of Pikeville, KY, various buildings, parking lots, temporary walkways, and above ground construction of the Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) expansion project, on Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Pikeville, KY. After months of infrastructure construction and rain delays, one of Kentucky’s largest American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects is under way. The .6 million Community Facilities Loan will finance construction of a new medical office building and parking garage. The new medical office building will house outpatient surgery, endoscopy, surgical support and provide exam, waiting and office space for 23 primary and specialty care physicians. It also will contain a medical research center to support existing research – in conjunction with Pikeville College – on health disparities, genetic research related to the prevalence of cancer and other areas, including drug and treatment trials. The new parking garage with more than 1,000 spaces will be built adjacent to the new medical building, eliminating the need to shuttle patients back and forth from remote parking areas. The new garage will provide closer and easier proximity to medical and hospital services for all patients.
Wayne Rutherford, County Judge-Executive for Pike County, says funding from ARRA is a boon for his county because it will create jobs.

“This is great for Pike County’s economy. We know we have a great hospital, and with this support, it will be even better,” said Rutherford. “The unemployment rate here is above the state average and this will stimulate jobs. There will be construction, which means lots of jobs on the front end – and even more once it is built.”

Pike County is one of Kentucky’s persistent poverty counties and the current medical facility provides health care services for a rural population of more than 68,000. This project will create 1,430 direct and indirect construction jobs, in addition to 97 long-term jobs. It is scheduled to be completed in December 2012.

“This project is a prime example of the ARRA monies being utilized for much-needed health care facility expansion in an economically-depressed region of Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia,” said Tom Fern, State Director for Rural Development in Kentucky. “This hospital has received national recognition for its quality of care, and this money will allow them to expand and build upon their success and continue providing quality health care services to the region.”

PMC was named National Hospital of the Year by the American Alliance of Healthcare Providers in November 2009. The hospital was among 400 elite health care facilities to apply for this prestigious honor. To earn this recognition, PMC competed against more than 400 hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic, the John Hopkins Hospital, Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, the Cleveland Clinic, Duke University Medical Center and Vanderbilt University.

Pikeville City Manager Donovan Blackburn said the medical center is the largest employer in Pikeville and contributes nearly million to the city through the payment of occupational taxes. He went on to say that Pikeville Medical’s success is also the city’s success because as other cities struggle with dwindling revenues, Pikeville has actually seen growth.

“This is a regional medical center that is very important to the city. Pikeville is a legal, financial and education hub for Eastern Kentucky and a gateway to rural communities in Virginia and West Virginia. There are half a million within a 50-mile radius – so it’s not just local people that depend on this facility,” said Blackburn. “From a regional standpoint it adds volume from a jobs standpoint. Everybody in this county knows someone or has family that works for Pikeville Medical Center.
“People in this area used to have to go out of the area for good jobs and quality medical services, but Pikeville Medical has changed that,” added Blackburn. "And it has impact on other parts of the city’s economy – hotels, restaurants and retail. It increases the quality of life tenfold.”

The Recovery Act was designed to spend money gradually over time in order to sustain a true recovery – with peak spending to occur early this year. While the experts agree that ARRA is already responsible for creating or saving approximately two million jobs, about 75 percent of recipients that reported on their Recover Act spending indicated their projects are less than half complete, meaning there is even more job impact from those dollars to come.
USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Recent Florida insurance legislation signed into law by Governor Charlie Crist was a necessary step required to strengthen the stability of the Florida Property Insurance system. Citizens Property Insurance Corporation will be able to raise rates by as much as 10% per year until the premiums they charge more closely reflect the risks the company is taking. Private Florida home insurance companies will also be permitted to charge more to cover the additional reinsurance they are expected to buy in the private market instead of from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.

The good news is that if Florida can continue the recent history of limited hurricane activity, the entire Florida insurance system should become stronger financially in the coming years – something that has to happen to improve the chances that most Florida home insurance companies can make good on their promise to pay your hurricane claim quickly and fairly.

The bad news is the fact that all of us will be facing up to a 10% increase in Florida homeowner insurance rates. A rate increase of 10% might not sound like much of an increase in other states but in Florida the situation is much different. These increases come on the heels of significant rate increases that followed the 2004/2005 hurricanes. Even before the coming 10% increase, consumers in Florida were already paying the highest home insurance rates in the country.

The timing of the rate increases is not good either. To begin with, Florida is in the middle of a financial crisis just like the rest of the country with depressed real estate, bankruptcies, foreclosure, and increases in unemployment. These rate increases will also be occurring right around the same time that State Farm Florida will begin shedding up to 30,000 policies per month as the company exits the Florida home insurance business and begins cancelling policies. Our subscribers who presently have their insurance with State Farm are telling us that finding comparable coverage with another Florida home insurance company may cost them up to 200% more after they lose their coverage with State Farm.

So where does that leave you as a Florida home insurance consumer during these difficult times?

First you have to understand that while there are only about 40 Florida home insurance companies still writing new business, if you shop around you have a good chance of finding 5-10 companies that are still willing to cover your home – even if it is older or close to the coast.

It is very important for you to shop your Florida home insurance policy with more than one independent agent – someone who represents multiple Florida homeowner insurance companies looking for your business. Contacting multiple independent agent will ensure that you are able to get quotes from all the companies in your county who want to cover your home – not just the companies represented by a single agent.

In addition, you have to research the Florida home insurance companies that you are considering. The 40 companies still writing new business are very different in terms of their size, financial stability, number of years of experience in the business, and customer service history. It is important that you ask your agent how each of the companies you are considering is performing in each of these areas.

As you come up with a short list of companies, work with several independent Florida insurance agents and make sure that you have received quotes from all the companies in your county that are interested in covering your home. As you evaluate the quotes, don’t buy the Florida insurance for your home simply on price. Find the right balance between strong financials, good customer service, and price. After all, what good is a low price on a Florida home insurance policy if the company is going to take forever to pay your claim at a value that won’t begin to repair the damage your home will sustain after a Florida hurricane?

There is no doubt that the recently approved Florida home insurance increases are going to be difficult to absorb and the timing couldn’t be worse. However, if you take the time to find all of the Florida home insurance companies that are interested in covering your home, you might be able to fight off all of the 10% increase while everyone else has to pay up. Your research can save you thousands!

Michael Letcher is a corporate executive and a licensed Certified Public Accountant. His on-line guide can help you find affordable Florida insurance. Get all the secrets to low cost Florida insurance in his free newsletter at =>
http://www.homeinsurancebuyers.org

I didn’t get time to get the first part with the news article up here is one link . There was so much cash in the EI fund like God was preparing us now its gone?

http://www.torontosun.com/news/canada/2010/04/15/13602696-qmi.html

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