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Senate prez gets earful from State Farm agent

by Dara Kam | March 11th, 2009

Senate President Jeff Atwater got an earful from a combative State Farm agent at what was supposed to be a routine Q and A with T-Coast leaders.

State Farm agent Bill Knight peppered Atwater, who has been on the warpath against property insurers for what he believes are excessive rates, with questions about the state CAT fund and other insurance questions, often interrupting the president and ultimately shutting down the session.

State Farm recently announced it was leaving the state and canceling its 1.2 million clients over the next two years after state insurance officials turned down its request for a 47 percent rate hike.

The state’s catastrophe fund has about $8 billion in cash on hand, but needs to cover about $28 billion in losses if a major storm occurs.

“We are heading out and there’s no turning around at this point. Where are the dollars going to come from if we were to have a Category 4 or 5 storm hitting Tampa or Pinellas County or anyone else in the state?” Knight wanted to know.

“We would be in a world of hurt if this occurred,” Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, said.

But that didn’t stop Knight.

“How are you going to get private companies to come into the state? We are being basically chased out of the state. I’ve got a real problem with it and I’d like to hear your solution,” he persisted.

“Well, probably, let me just say this. I think you have a valid point. My hope would be that as you see the state and our policies loosen the restrictions so that there is a greater sense of market rate being provided by these corporations in Florida that private players will validate that those things are working and they will come here,” Atwater offered.

Knight didn’t back down even after Atwater’s aide stepped in to close the meeting.

Atwater got the last word, however, after conceding that that the property insurance situation is a “huge problem” in the state.

“Let me just say we agree,” he said.

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5 Responses to “Senate prez gets earful from State Farm agent”

  1. I hate snake farm Says:

    What a bozo. Knight’s employer gets their bluff called, and he wants to blame the politicians?

    Snake farm is nothing more than a cancer on the body of Florida.

    They can go, and take their idiots with them. Starting with Bill Knight…

  2. State Farm Agent Takes on Senator « Jacksonville Politics Says:

    [...] Farm Agent Takes on Senator Interesting exchange from the Palm Beach Post between a State Farm agent and the president of the Florida Senate. State Farm agent Bill Knight [...]

  3. Barbara Says:

    Obviously the “snake farm writer can’t read. If he had he woudl have read that our legislators are agreeing they screw up and that some thing is really wrong with our State government, Atwater just admitted it.
    Think about it, if Nationwide, Allstate, Farmers, Farm Bureau, Prudential, Progressive, Geico USAA and so and so on… won’t write home insurance for us here… (check it out I have they won’t) It doesnt take a rocket scientist “Snake”. Maybe you need a Business/Insurance 101 remedial course.
    We are in a “world of hurt” was the quote I read from Atwater. Did you?

    When Demotech pulls their rating from most or all of the new Start up Insurance companies May 15th 2009 oh right “Snake” you didn’t read about that either, and right before Huricane season, what then??
    Obtw “Snake” you might want to think about the reason they might be losing their rating… ya think they might not have enough money to pay for the promise to pay claims??? Just like POE Insurance they let the new guys come in and then they blow away with the first storm that hits.
    I don’t know about the rest of you but I lost my State Farm policy last year and now I am paying more for less coverage and it looks like with little hope of ever collecting if a big storm hits us again in my area… yes we were slammed in 2004. And Yes State Farm was GREAT!!!
    I want my State Farm policy back now.
    Fix it Charlie Crist this is your Fault come down off you throne and fix your
    mess. And dont try to blame your puppet Kevin.
    I am one of many Republicans that you can count on to NOT VOTE for you ever again.

  4. Kelly Crews Says:

    I am glad that Sen. Atwater agrees we are in a mess in Florida with our insurance. It is upsetting to me when someone who obviously does not understand the whole situation blames State Farm. Where was the outcry and blame when other companies cancelled or pulled out of Florida? Was it because they did not have near the policies as State Farm or the name recognition? State Farm has been there through the hard times and has come through for their insured’s. Now that they see that they will not be able to do that in the future and they pull out because our so called “People’s governor” is unwilling to work with them to provide the proper rates needed to sustain them in the future and you want to get mad at them. Please, give me a break. Have you done any research at all. If State Farm cannot pay their obligations then how will the state who admitts they don’t have the money now to do it? They can’t but they can raise your taxes to pay for the socialized insurance that your beloved Charlie wants. So it will be you sir who pays the bill along with the rest of us. It is time we all wake up and realize we have allowed one man who made unrealistic promises to fool us all. It is us the people who have to take control and make the elected ones do something. Charlie Crist needs to understand that if he does not make the changes needed our state will be in a real mess the first major storm or several class 3 storms or cat.3 storms. So where does that leave us. Up the creek without a paddle or do we send a message to Charlie that says make this right or your career in politics will be a short lived one. He has the insurance situation out of control along with education. Promises are easy to make and hard to keep. Can “The People’s Governor” make the tough decisions to keep State Farm in Florida and get our education system back to where they can teach instead of lay off teacher after teacher? Can he make permanant and significant changes? Is he capable of doing what Governor Jindal did in Louisiana, and get rid of all regulations and let it become a free market. That way you can charge what you need or you can have rates too high and put yourself out of business. We should not be told we have to make our purchases from Wal-Mart if we want to shop at Macy’s. Why is that so hard to comprehend. These are my questions. I am only disappointed in our governor, I feel he stole my vote. No problem, that will not happen again. I think Ol’Charlie needs to re-evaluate his position on this issue before our state is bankrupt. Our real estate market is just starting to get back on its feet, if something does not change that will die. Why you ask, well because when you cannot get homeowners that is highly rated then you will not be able to get a mortgage. It is all tied together. So instead of getting mad with the companies lets help them inturn we will be helping ourselves. I hope all will stand up and let your voice be heard on capitol hill so that our elected officials will do what we want for a change.
    Seeking for a solution that works!
    the Boss
    that is according to Crist…..

  5. Treasure Coast Talk » Blog Archive » Treasure Coast Talk – local news, comments & discussion - Blog Says:

    [...] a combative State Farm agent at what was supposed to be a routine Q and A with T-Coast leaders. See for [...]

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