Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott 's top legislative priority for the 2013 session is mitigation, including refocusing the public hurricane loss model on mitigation, revising residential mitigation credits and creating commercial credits.
Ms. Westcott also is proposing $300 million a year for two years from Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to provide opening protection for unmitigated homes in the Citizens' Coastal Account.
She pressed her mitigation program during an address Wednesday to the State of Florida Insurance Market Summit, sponsored by PCI and the Colodny, Fass, Talenfield, Karlinsky, Abate, Webb law firm at Amelia Island. She presented it earlier to a Senate Banking & Insurance Committee workshop, the FIC pre-legislative conference at Amelia in December and other forums.
Mitigation will be included in the package coming out from the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee soon and some of her recommendations could be included.
Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, in his property insurance package, also addressed mitigation. He said insurers should be allowed to redo residential credits using the same private models they use to project their wind losses.
Mitigation clearly will get a lot of attention this session and ICA Westcott is making the most noise about it. None of her proposals are yet in a legislative draft and they will be distributed to the FIC Property Committee as soon as they are.
She is recommending transfer of the public insurance model at Florida International University from the Office of Insurance Regulation to the Division of Emergency Management in the Department of Community Affairs. DEM would supervise use of the model and other mitigation-related activities under an advisory council consisting of groups like FLASH and IBHS.
OIR uses the model primarily in rate-making, she noted. "We could use it for some other incredibly useful things." These include a database on mitigation, "leverage of the federal flood program," restructuring mitigation credits and creating a commercial mitigation credit initiative.
Under her initiative, insurers would be allowed to restructure their wind mitigation credits, moving to fill a gap created by a Division of Administrative Hearings ruling which voided certain pre-2001 mitigation discounts. While not totally clear on specifics, she seems to be saying insurers might use the public model. They would be allowed to use their private models.
"We should step back and let the companies model this," she said of the credits.
There also would be a role for the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology, on which she serves.
The National Flood Insurance Program will be undergoing changes, especially involving storm surge and water, she says. Florida provides 40 percent of the NFIP's national premium. It should become aggressive in influencing the NFIP changes and the public model could be utilized. "We really need to take leadership in this program," she says.
She is recommending that the Legislature take $600 million which the Citizens Coastal Account would spend on reinsurance during the next two years and appropriate it for grants for opening protections in unmitigated homes in the Coastal Account. This would produce a 20 percent reduction in the Coastal ML, she estimates.
Article Courtesy of Florida Insurance Council
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