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Monday, September 26, 2016

Rick Scott campaigned for governor on the promise of running Florida like a big business, but the one big business that Florida actually runs is out of control.

Citizens Property Insurance Corp. was created a decade ago, supposedly to help residents afford hurricane coverage for their homes. With 1.3 million policyholders, Citizens is the state’s largest insurer of property.

And it’s been managed about as carefully as amateur night at your local strip joint. In fact, that’s where one happy Citizens worker liked to use his company credit card.

Last year Citizens jacked up its rates almost 11 percent, and now it wants legislative approval to go much, much higher.

The cost of insuring a home already is one of the heaviest financial loads carried by Florida families. If you wonder what happens to all the hefty premiums, an investigative series by the Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times presents an enlightening snapshot.

Basically, the money’s flying all over the place.

According to the state’s chief inspector, Citizens employees and some board members somehow piled up $1.3 million in travel expenses between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31 last year.

The tab includes a $633-a-night hotel stay in Bermuda for the company Chief Financial Officer Sharon Binnun, as well as expensive visits to Switzerland and London. She jetted through a total of four countries and racked up $35,000 in charges.

Citizens customers (and I’m one of them) are rightfully curious about the pretense upon which a Florida insurance executive would travel to such exotic places and claim it as a business trip.

Meanwhile, senior managers who weren’t flying anywhere still got reimbursed on more than 50 occasions for meals in their own hometowns. That’s a sweet deal for them, but a sour one for policyholders and taxpayers who bailed out the company after the last bad storm season.

Despite the swelling scandal about overspending at Citizens, the current president, Barry Gilway, handed out fat raises to loyal executives including Binnun, his passport-flashing CFO.

Scott has expressed dismay over the unseemly pay hikes raises and exorbitant travel, and wants to ban board members from international jaunts. His long view is to shrink Citizens and attract other big insurance firms into Florida as competition, which he says will lead to lower premiums.

Stop laughing. The man really said that.

  • Michael Kollmorgen

    With the cost of construction skyrocketing (profiteering), Florida Residences are going to find it hard to find affordable insurance policies that will cover the cost of hurricane damages.

    Many of these residences are located right on the Coast. Makes for great views of the Ocean. But really a bad idea overall. Yet, they expect their properties to be replaced every single time a hurricane destroys it. You, in particular had been living off the feds for way too long.

    And, with more hurricanes being formed and more powerful due to global warming, this is going to happen more frequently.

    Maybe it’s time to think of evacuating the state entirely and return it back to what it once was, mostly marsh and grasses.

    I’m sure the ecosystem would appreciate it.

  • nobsartist

    Where we should have a highly regulated insurance industry, we have one with NO regulations. Instead of Democrats working to regulate it for consumers benifiet, the Dems
    force EVERYONE to buy into the legalized crime cabal created by raygun with his legalization of “for profit” health care.

    The Affordable Health Care joke hands unregulated business from 350 MILLION Americans to an industry that should be illegal.

    Has anyone seen anything about insurance in the Constitution? Of course not. America was created to get away from just that, along with an over bearing government.

    I see nothing in the Constitution that gives the government the right to demand we buy anything from an un-regul;ated criminal cabal like the insurance industry.

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      Yes, ALL Insurance Companies are crooks. But, what does your comment have to do with Florida’s Home Insurance problem? NOTHING. The main focus of this article is about Home Insurance, not medical coverage.

      However

      Most modernized countries have a one-payer government-run medical programs. Most have, on a international level, higher ratings for care and satisfaction than ours does. The United States, overall, is about half way down the list of all modern industrialized countries (some not even industrialized) in the area of medical coverage, care and satisfaction.

      But, here is the clincher, they also have strict controls of the COST – highly regulated.

      I totally approve of what is being done, at least for a start. But, its pretty much useless unless the government institutes strict cost controls. And, not only in the medical fields either.

      We should have had a government-run medical program with cost controls instituted years ago. We wouldn’t be having all these problems today.

      • Michael, nobsartis is just a troll who doesn’t learn from anything he’s been told. He’s well aware that although universal healthcare may be the ideal, that having tried to implement such a plan at a time when the country had already lost millions of jobs and hundreds/thousands of companies. Just what does he think would have happened back in 2009 if universal healthcare had been enacted when the country was already incurring record deficits and suddenly the country found out that now health insurers may also well be going belly up because a country in turmoil was going to now assume providing healthcare. Obamacare may not be perfect, but as I told nobsartist in a couple other posts, neither he, nor anyone else in America knows for certain exactly how Obamacare is going to turn out. A lot of it depends on the healthcare industry following through on reducing their charges that are currently grossly inflated, quite often by 8-10 times their actual costs just to cover for the millions who get healthcare but do not have the money (insurance) to pay for the care. It’s a little unfortunate that Congress chose to implement the portion of Obamacare that would drive up premiums (the requirement for insurers to provide additional benefits and also curb their ability to refuse some coverages) years before the portion that would bring them down (requiring millions of Americans to have insurance and providing subsidies to allow those on limited incomes to afford insuring themselves). Nobsartist being the clueless one he is, refuses to remember or simply ignores reading whatever it appears goes against his limited ability to understand. Obamacare has already greatly slowed the increases in insurance premiums to the levels of 15 years ago.
        Telling anything to nobsartist is like telling it to the wall.

        • nobsartist

          Yes and you are an idiot. Independent my ass. You fail to remember when there was a law that made “for profit” insurance illegal. You also fail to remember when ALL hospitals were owned by counties and doctors rented space from the county. That was your price control.

          Before you start calling me a troll, you are a fucking idiot.

          Now tell me who ordered those hospitals built, smart ass.

          Eisenhower, a republiCON.

          He did that along with building the highway system to create jobs.
          It took some one with balls to do that especially since the “government doesnt create jobs”.

          So fuck off, you are the problem simply because you are stupid.

          Another thing, smart ass, the reason the rest of the world has a healthcare system is because of the Marshall Plan.

          Something we created and forced on other countries but we failed to adopt.

      • nobsartist

        I dont approve of what is being done because when raygun created the mess when he legalized “for profit” health care, he said it was to “reign in costs”.

        Obviously, that did not work very well which makes me wonder why obama continued it.

        He sort of meets the definition of insane simply by continuing something that obviously cannot and will not work.

        If he cannot control energy costs, only an idiot would believe that something that has not worked to control health care costs, will control costs.

        And those high gas costs are because we invaded a country “to stabilize oil prices” which it didnt do and Obama has done nothing about that either.

        So the bottom line is, health care costs will not be affordable to most Americans and gas prices are not affordable either.

        I ma certainly glad that we are on the verge of new gun control laws.

        Afterall, when you make priorities, gun control is vastly more important than health care costs, energy costs or jobs.

        But what would you or your independent friend know about priorities.

        • Michael Kollmorgen

          I agree with much of your above comments.

          Well, at least Obama is trying to do something.

          No, it probably won’t work, but not doing something is worse than doing nothing.

          Let’s fact one simple fact, the public gets it in the “end” one way or the other.

          We ALL are at the will of major corporations that have a lot more power than us Peons and always will. I can only see one way of changing it too and it’ll probably be revolution.

          Please, don’t pin me into a “group-think” category. I have my own opinions and priorities.

  • rudnicker

    Rick Scott should be in jail for Medicare fraud. Instead, like all the rich, he pays a fine and walks away. This says a lot about his character and integrity. When are the Floridians going to wake up and see that the put the fox in the henhouse.

    • CPAinNewYork

      Rudnicker:

      The answer to your rhetorical question is “probably never.”

      Florida voter seem to be really dumb.

      • I listened to part of Gov. Scott’s State of the State on NPR today and he is bragging about the millions of people that left New York and California because of high taxes and high unemployment in those states, and moved to Florida where he, Rick Scott, the man responsible for the Columbia HCA MEDICARE fraud case, has created a business friendly environment, lowered taxes, and is investing in education! The latter made me laugh. One of the first things Gov. Scott did after taking office was cut $1B from the education budget. When his performance rating dropped to the 30% range, he changed his tune and is now embracing Democratic causes, just in time to run for re-election next year. Incredibly, his favorability rating is going up. I guess most of my fellow Floridians are suffering from Alzheimers and can’t remember what this man did until a few months ago.

        • CPAinNewYork

          I think that they’re just plain dumb.

          • alumahead

            Not all of us, but I fear we are out-numbered.

        • alumahead

          It appears on the outside that Scott has found a conscience, but I trust him like a rattlesnake. He’s suddenly become teacher and education friendly and even agreed to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, though it is unlikely to get through the GOP led legislature (fingers crossed).

          I’d like to think Florida is moving to a more liberal bent as we went for Obama in the last two elections and the super-majority legislature lost that distinction in November when Dems gained more seats, though they still maintain control. One problem with Florida is that as conservative voters die off they are replaced by new retirees from other States. It’s one downside of having incredibly favorable weather. Still, we are becoming more diverse with time, so I still have hope.

  • english_teacher

    However, the simple fact is that running a government is not like running a business. They are two entirely different animals. Despite the myth, just because someone may be good at running a business does not automatically mean that they will be good at running a government. A business can be run by fiat; good government requires consensus. If you look at the occupations of past presidents, only three (Hoover and the two Bushes) were businessmen and we all know how well the country did under Hoover and Bush II. (I’m cutting Bush I some slack because he did raise taxes despite saying he wouldn’t when he was campaigning.)

  • Urbane_Gorilla

    IMO, Rick Scott is part of Florida’s problem. We here in California dodged a bullet when Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina ran on the Republican platform as “businesswomen”. Govt is not a business. However, allowing insurers to cherry pick what they do and don’t cover will always leave the State to pick up the pieces. On the East Coast and Gulf, you have Windpools…On the West Coast, we have State run Earthquake coverage. All states have Federal Flood insurance. IMO, all risks should be covered and ‘pooled’ by the total book of business nationwide. Someone pointed out the issues with “Obamacare” as indicative of why government shouldn’t be in the insurance business. It too is filling the gap left by the cherry picking insurance companies. You’ll notice that insurers just take the low cost risks, leaving the more expensive for govt agencies to handle. That is why these coverages cost more. A last note on Healthcare. You don’t need to own a home. You can rent or live under a bridge. You don’t need a car. You can take a bus or walk. You will eventually need healthcare. Like the UofC student who exceeded his $200,000 lifetime cap in one year due to cancer, or the 60% of bankruptcies nationwide that include medical costs as a major part of, or all of the reason for filing. We do need single payer…and we need to adopt a European style system to cut of costs in half thereby saving our budget, Medicare and lives.

  • elw

    Insurance of any kind is a rip off. The insurance companies whole game is to get out of paying. They take the least risk possible, exclude anything that is more likely to cause a claim and when they do pay a claim they act like you have committed a crime. They also make sure their explanation of coverage is impossible to understand that the average person has to hire a lawyer in order to make sure they are getting what they have been promised.

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      Ain’t that the truth…………….

  • Pamby50

    The only reason Rick Scott is trying to do something is that he is up for re-election. How Floridians elected this crook in the first place is beyond me.

    • CPAinNewYork

      As I wrote previously: Florida voters are dumb.

    • Sand_Cat

      If they re-elected Bush after the 2000 presidential election, how could you be surprised at their selecting Scott?

  • Rick Scott, governor AGAINST Florida.