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Crist lashes out at insurance industry

Gov. Charlie Crist today suggested that insurance companies may be working in concert together to thwart insurance reforms passed last January and he said he's ordered lawyers in the governor's office to investigate whether or not that could be happening.

Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty also expressed frustration at the fact that companies are not filing rate decreases as was originally forecast by analysts. McCarty said his office intended to vigorously examine all rate filings - pointing out for example that the Office of Insurance Regulation on Monday had directed State Farm to file new filings that show an additional four to five percent decrease on top of the 7 percent decrease the company showed. McCarty also said that OIR has sent out subpoenas to State Farm executives asking them to show up at a hearing to explain why they decided to drop 50,000 coastal policyholders.

But Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink told Crist and her fellow Cabinet members that if insurance companies do not pass on savings to consumers as predicted then the Legislature should go back and remove the extra risk in the Hurricane Catastrophe Fund that the state assumed as a way to lower rates. Sink also said she wants to question the experts hired by OIR and the Legislature who had predicted the average 24-26 percent rate decrease in the first place.