Thursday, August 13, 2009

Aug. 13: Reward Those Who Protect Homes From Hurricanes

By Sylvia Gurinsky

In Florida, it's expensive to do the right thing.

That's why the state should maintain the discounts state residents receive for installing shutters and doing other things to protect their homes from hurricanes.

A story by Beatrice E. Garcia in last Sunday's Miami Herald , however, indicates that insurers are pressuring the Florida Legislature to reverse themselves on the shutter discount:

Essentially, the insurance companies' argument is that the discount is Florida's form of "cash for clunkers" (or in this case, cash for non-clunkers), in that it's been so popular they can't make money.

Somehow, that's hard to believe. There are plenty of Floridians who still haven't put shutters, or any other kind of hurricane protection, on their homes.

Insurance companies may look at surcharges for those who do nothing. If homeowners can afford the surcharge, that's not a bad idea. If they can't, however, that brings yet another problem.

The review the Legislature is currently doing is necessary; any kind of public scrutiny is welcome. But lawmakers should not cave in to pressure - or campaign dollars - from the insurance industry.

In recent years, Florida has been learning how to get hurricane preparation right. Weakening the methods in any way would be wrong.

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