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Northwest Florida Daily News: Reform Needed

Monday, July 29, 2013

Referencing your July 6 editorial “Lifestyles of the rich and insured.”

The Florida Wildlife Federation has a long history of working to protect our state’s most valuable ecosystems, including coastal wildlife habitat. To this end, we have been heavily involved in promoting responsible land use and disaster mitigation to protect people, property, and the environment.

We agree with the editorial position of the North Florida Daily News regarding reducing the role and scope of Citizens Property Insurance and the need to take government subsidies out of the insurance equation. State backed property insurance provides an unwise incentive to reckless coastal development.

Without appropriate price signals, as imposed by properly underwritten and priced insurance, unwitting home buyers think it is safe to live in flood-prone coastal areas. This not only leads to the destruction of important coastal wildlife habitat but it also greatly diminishes the storm protections offered by undeveloped barrier islands and coastal wetlands.

However, an equally important policy choice must be addressed by the Florida Legislature, before time runs out on us all, and that is the need to reduce the role of the state backed Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund (Cat Fund). The Cat Fund serves as the reinsurer for Citizens Insurance thus exposing Florida taxpayers to a double whammy should both Citizens and the Cat Fund not be able to pay their claims.

By returning the Cat Fund and Citizens to their original mission, as the insurer of last resort, we can move toward ending the practice of subsidizing reckless development in low lying coastal areas of the state, thus better protecting Florida’s people and our fish and wildlife habitats.

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