When he was campaigning for governor of Florida, Charlie Crist pledged to do something about skyrocketing property tax rates in the state. And do something he has -- unfortunately, none of it has worked. Crist backed the Legislature's insurance "fix" in January that put Florida government into the insurance business big time, dramatically increasing the amount of risk taxpayers will have to bear if a major hurricane hits the state. The trade-off for this risk was supposed to be that premiums for homeowners insurance rates would tumble. Crist has also lit into insurance companies every chance he gets, calling them out as robber barons and vowing to bring power to the people.
Not surprisingly, central planning and name calling haven't worked -- insurers are even more keen to avoid risk in the state and have dumped coastal policies by the hundreds of thousands, forcing the state-run property insurance program to take on even more taxpayer-backed risk -- Citizen's Property is the state's biggest insurer and keeps on growing. Property insurance rates not only didn't go down by as much as Crist and lawmakers said, most insurers have filed for rate increases, causing Crist to engage in further episodes of table banging and name calling.
Residents of Florida have begun to notice this is getting embarrassing, and one very influential resident -- Jeb Bush, Crist's predecessor as governor -- spoke out against Crist's policies this week, although Bush was careful not to denounce Crist by name. This Wall Street Journal editorial applauded Bush's statements. The Journal quotes from a story by Ray Lehmann, a reporter for A.M. Best who broke the story. Lehmann's original story, and more, is avaiable at this post I wrote at Insurance Coverage Law Blog earlier this week.