For six years, Mother Nature has granted Florida uncommon tranquility along its 1,200-mile coastline, where the state’s peninsular mass dangles precariously in the world’s most hurricane-prone waters.
During that probability-defying streak of hurricane-free autumns, Florida’s largest insurer of homes — state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp.— has seen its exposure to risk skyrocket and its financial outlook deteriorate.
As state lawmakers began their legislative session last month, they heard a crescendo of cautionarycries from a growing chorus of fiscal hawks. Their message: A major hurricane could wreak unprecedented havoc on Florida’s fragile economy.
Six weeks later, there has been little political will to pass large-scale reforms and prepare Citizens for another Andrew, or a Katrina.
With redistricting at the forefront and elections looming, the lack of legislative fervor for insurance reform is understandable: The changes deemednecessary by the insurance industry would almost certainly lead to higher premiums for homeowners and attach additional costs to the state’s troubled real estate market.
For its part, Citizens has taken on a growing share of the risk-reduction effort, with a series of controversial moves that have sparked consumer outcry and lawsuits.
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