When will our legislature learn not to trust insurance executives and, especially, their lobbyists? Maybe when we vote insurance-beholden legislators out of office. The Tampa Tribune, St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald ran front page stories regarding State Farm’s administrative request for an average rate increase of 47%. At first I thought it was a mistake, until all three papers reported the same increase and the St. Petersburg Times indicated that some increases for existing rates could be 91%.
Something is terribly wrong. State Farm has increased rates for the past several years. Supposedly, those rates were somewhat fair to State Farm and their policyholders. Florida suffered zero hurricane losses the last two years. State Farm, unless it is altering its books, has to be lake every other carrier in Florida over the past two years–raking in the cash. They have collected very high premiums based upon catastrophes that never materialized. Possibly, State Farm was a lot smarter than Allstate, and simply waited a year to break the promise it made to the legislature. Allstate got the great legislation it wanted, promised a discount, and then requested a forty percent rate increase, which lead to a full blown investigation of its practices. Maybe the State Farm executives were a little smarter and simply waited a year.
State Farm is one of the largest lobbying organizations in Florida and the United States. The management wields a lot of power because it uses customer’s premiums to influence regulators and legislators for laws that benefit State Farm, ofter to the detriment of its own customers. It is all legal, and it makes good business sense for the executives of State Farm to influence social laws to its best economic interest.
The question is how long we are going to alow this corporation to control the people we elect and have appointed? Eventually, there must come a recognition that people, not corporations, are the reason laws are made and government exists. When elected officials are asked if a policy or law helps the people and are commited to that function, these crazy situations will occur much less frequently. Only arrogant corporations could expect to do what State Farm did this year and Allstate did the reay before. Are the people of Florida simply pawns in the schemes these insurance companies concoct to enough themselvelves.