Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 8.13.14: Charley, 10 years later

Posted By on Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 8:50 AM

click to enlarge charley_location.jpg

In a just world, the people who run insurance companies would have a moral compass, and they wouldn't be able to gouge raise property insurance rates as dramatically as they have over the past decade. But that's not the way it works. To wit, it's been nearly nine years since Hurricane Wilma slammed South Florida in October of 2005, but insurance rates have gone up annually every year since.

It's as good a time as ever to contemplate the unfairness of it all, on this, the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Charley, the storm that started the frenzied years of 2004-2005 in Florida, when seven major weather incidents whipped through the Sunshine State, causing enormous damage.

Charley, you might recall, was expected to become the first storm to crash into the Tampa Bay area since 1921. The August 13, 2004 issue of the St. Petersburg Times had a huge headline that read: "Target: Tampa Bay." The morning was ominous, as the storm was seemingly headed straight into Tampa until it took a crazy southwestern dip shortly after 1 p.m., and by 3:30 p.m. it had crashed into Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, Sebring and Wauchula. Charley caused 10 deaths and $15.4 billion in damage.

Of course, there haven't been any such major storms since then. But no one's rates have gone down. Just the opposite.  It was reported a year ago that annual reports prepared by Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation show that the department has been approving more than 100 rate hike requests a year since 2009 — including requests to hike rates by double digits.

Re-insurance is considered the biggest culprit — that's the money an insurer spends with an out-of-state or foreign company to provide financial backing in case of major claims. And sinkholes. And profligate spending by executives at Citizens, formerly known as the insurer of last resort in Florida, which in recent years has been in some locations the only game in town for property insurance. 

In other news…

The TED/Policy Leadership Group announced yesterday that the plan is to take community input over the next couple of months regarding a potential transit tax referendum on the 2016 ballot. That whole question about who runs HART? They'll wait awhile to get around to that.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn presided over the opening of Water Works Park in Tampa Heights yesterday. CL's Nicole Abbett reports.

Congresswoman Kathy Castor is on a mission to get young boys and girls in the Tampa Bay area to get the HPV vaccination. The percentage of 11- and 12-year-olds in Florida getting this vaccine was the worst in the nation, but that percentage is slowly rising.

And the Tea Party of Florida has made its picks in some local Hillsborough County races. 

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