Insurance: Holmes Beach taxpayers hardest hit
Three Anna Maria Island cities wind insurance
|Anna Maria City
||Fl League of Cities
Here is yet another insurance horror story on Anna Maria Island - this
one for taxpayers in Holmes Beach.
Figure this: Holmes
Beach taxpayers are paying more than five times as
much for wind insurance to protect city property as taxpayers in the
other two Island cities.
The wind insurance bill for the Holmes
Beach City Hall complex is now $49,773 - a record. That is more than double
what it was last year.
Neither Bradenton Beach nor Anna Maria City
have been hit like that.
The disparity is the result of the controversial
state-designated wind pool boundaries that divide businesses
and non-residential property owners into two groups: those who are eligible
for the state's
lower-priced Citizens Property Insurance Corp. coverage and those who are not.
Beach City Hall is outside the wind pool. The city
buildings for Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria City are within the measured
distance from the Gulf of Mexico that constitutes the wind pool.
me, it's just ridiculous
that they wouldn't be treated the same," said state Rep. Bill Galvano,
a Republican who represents western Manatee County and who has been a leader
of the effort to find solutions to the state insurance crisis.
talking about three cities clustered together on a barrier island," he
said, "and because of
an arbitrary line, Holmes Beach taxpayers have to pay all that extra money."
wind pool is an area of specific boundaries in coastal
counties. On Anna Maria Island, it begins on the shore of the Gulf of
Mexico and extends east for 1,000 feet.
Under state rules, the owner of any
property inside the wind-zone boundary can go to Citizens
for wind insurance if it isn't
available from a standard carrier. Residential property
outside the wind pool also can qualify for Citizens if no standard insurance
can be found.
But the owners of commercial and non-residential property,
such as churches and municipal buildings, are not eligible
for Citizens if the property is outside the wind zone.
State rules also say that Citizens is
supposed to charge rates equal to or greather than
insurance offered by regular insurers. But because of the turmoil in
today's insurance market, Citizens
wind prices are typically a bargain compared to the premiums available from other
insurers, such as the unregulated carriers or special groups, including the Florida
League of Cities, an organization that sells insurance and other products and
services to member cities.
Here is the tale of our three cities when
it comes to wind insurance:
- Bradenton Beach city properties,
including city hall, the police department's building, garage
and the nearby Tingley Memorial Library, are valued at $1.22 million.
The city paid a wind premium of $4,573 to Citizens - an amount
that works out to $3,748 per $1 million of coverage.
- Anna Maria City
paid $4,595 for a Citizens wind policy covering $1.4
million in city property, including city hall and
the adjacent Island Players playhouse. That works out to $3,282
per $1 million in coverage.
- Holmes Beach paid $49,773 for wind insurance
to protect its $2.5 million in properties, which
includes city hall, police and administrative offices and contents.
That works out to $19,909 per $1 million of coverage, or more than
five times the rate paid by the other two cities.
If Holmes Beach had access to Citizens and
was able to get the same rate as Bradenton Beach and
Anna Maria City, Holmes Beach would be spending $8,200 to $9,400 for wind insurance,
rather than $49,773.
The irony is that Holmes Beach should be
getting a break on the wind insurance for its buildings
based on the construction and age.
That is because underwriters typically charge
higher rates for older buildings such as city halls
in Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria.
The Holmes Beach City Hall is nearly new and was constructed to tougher
Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore says she will work with Galvano
and other legislators "to get things changed
as fast as we can, to get some relief" for Holmes Beach, Anna Maria
Island and Manatee County.
Whitmore, who is running for an at-large
seat on the Manatee County Commission, said she will "do whatever
it takes" to
encourage insurance reforms, including going to Tallahassee,
if necessary, to push for legislative action.
The mayor pointed out that
the Legislature had a chance earlier this year to expand
the wind pool by approving the amendment proposed by Galvano to expand
the pool boundaries for five counties, including Manatee. The measure
was defeated by a vote of 57-56.
one vote was cast by Rep. Ron Reagan," Whitmore said.
Reagan, a Republican who represents the
eastern half of Manatee County, said at the time that
he voted against the Galvano amendment because it was opposed by the Republican
leadership in the Legislature. Reagan has since taken the position that the amendment "was
not the right thing to do at the time because it would have dumped several thousand
more policies into Citizens."
He now says he would support expansion of
the wind pool for Manatee County if it can be done
with "proper" legislation.
Whitmore said she thinks Reagan, a Bradenton
insurance agent who is unopposed for re-election, "has been educated" and
will be working with new legislators elected this November
as well as many veteran lawmakers to correct the insurance
of commercial and non-residential property outside
the wind zone are especially eager for insurance reform as they continue
to struggle to find affordable wind coverage.
of them would be thrilled to get the per-million rate
that Holmes Beach is paying - even
if it is five times as much as the other cities.
The annual wind premium
of London for the Island Shopping Center, valued at
$2 million, is more than three times that of the city of Holmes Beach. The shopping
center is outside the wind pool and doesn't qualify for Citizens.
does Roser Memorial Community Church, which has no
wind insurance. The church lost its coverage in June and has been unable
to find affordable insurance.
The only insurer willing
to write a wind policy for Roser wanted $225,000.
The church and the
Island Shopping Center are each valued at about $2
million. If they could obtain wind coverage similar to the Island cities,
the premium would be:
- $39,818 based on the Holmes Beach
rate from the Florida League.
- $7,496 based on the
Bradenton Beach rate from Citizens.
- $6,564 based
on the Anna Maria City rate from Citizens.
Homeowner saves $1,300
Anna Maria homeowner Dorothy Perricone
is a retired school principal and district administrator
who reads The
Islander and knows how to follow up on a news tip that can save
Perricone figures she is about $1,300 richer as a result of what she
read in the Oct. 18 edition of The Islander about
The article reported that Florida residents who were "taken
out" of Citizens and charged higher rates for wind insurance might be
able to return to Citizens and its lower rates under an order issued Oct. 11
by the state insurance commissioner.
Perricone was notified this summer that
her wind policy was being "taken out" of Citizens and put into
Florida Peninsula Insurance Company. But the bill for her wind renewal policy
didn't arrive until a few weeks ago.
She was focused on that bill - which
was about two and a half times what she knew Citizens would have charged - at
about the time she read The Islander.
Perricone knew she had a limited
amount of time to act because the new, higher premium
was due Nov. 3. Last week she started making phone calls. The first one
was to her agent, who told her she couldn't go back to Citizens.
"But I have learned in my life that
you can't always take no for an answer," she said.
Next she called
Citizens and found a representative there named Judy,
who assured her that she could get back into Citizens. Judy said the
agent probably hadn't
had time to learn about the change ordered by the insurance commission earlier
this month. She suggested that Perricone go back to the agent to enlist his
help in making the switch.
Sure enough, when
Perricone called the agent back to report her conversation
with Citizens, he agreed to pursue the matter. As of
Thursday, Oct. 26, the agent assured Perricone he was doing the
necessary paperwork to get her back into Citizens at
the lower rate.
"This is going to save me about
$1,300," Perricone said.