Governor, Insurance Companies Weigh in on Florida's Insurance Reform Bill

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Gov. Charlie Crist called the proposal to lower rates a victory for consumers.

However, insurance companies themselves warn the short-term gain may ultimately just produce a lot of future pain.

Gov. Crist strode down the hall looking confident. He was relentless in his demand that the end product of the weeklong special session on the insurance crisis would be lower rates for everyone.

"The reality is this is the first time I can ever remember that there’s been a bill for the governor to sign that will have rates go down, ever," he said.

That rate reduction could be anywhere from 10 to 30 percent or more, depending on where you live and what insurance company you have.

The bigger question for many folks however, is whether this legislation could actually make things worse. It’s kind of a pay me now or pay me later situation.

Insurance lobbyists are predicting Florida could end up with fewer companies willing to do business here. Under the bill, those private insurers will now have to compete head to head with the state’s own Citizens Property Insurance Company for customers.

William Stander with the Property Casualty Insurers of America says we could all end up paying for the state’s mandate that citizens roll back its rates.

"The difference has to be made up someplace. If Citizens are going to sell that insurance cheap, then you and I are going to make up for it with drastic surcharges when, and that is when, the next big hurricane hits."

But if insurance companies hate the bill, many consumer advocates who rallied at the Capitol all week are now praising it, which may be as good a reason as any for the governor to sign the bill.

Gov. Crist says he may sign the Insurance Rate Relief Bill as soon as the end of the week.