September 8, 2007
Representative Ronald Mariano, Chair, House Financial Services Committee
Senator Stephen Buoniconti, Chair, Senate Financial Services Committee
I hope that your staffers will see the import of bringing this to your attention. It is an adjunct to the hearing that you held at the CC Community College today. You were gracious to come to the Cape to be subjected to our vitriol, but Gentlemen, we charged you with a responsibility and we're all watching to see what you do in response to our pain.
My name is a Alan Ringgold. I am a resident of Eastham. I am a volunteer member of the Citizens for Homeowners Insurance Reform on Cape Cod. I attended your hearing today, and chose not to speak, assuming that you would get graphic evidence from my fellow Cape Cod citizens. You did get graphic testimony, but the end result is that you left with a litany of complaints, and no specific plans of action suggested to you to resolve our crisis.
This letter is my way of attempting to steer you in an intelligent path to resolve our crisis. Here are a number of initiatives that I think would be worthy of your consideration:
- Stop the madness!! Make one of your recommendations to Nonnie Burns that she immediately freeze any escalation of insurance premiums on Cape Cod and the coastal areas of Massachusetts until reason can be found. The people of Cape Cod and the coastal regions are in a crisis. The people of the Cape and Islands have no ability to pay more. The very economy of Cape Cod is in jeopardy. Give the people at least a respite while a resolution is debated and decided upon.
- Bring back competition. End the ability of insurance companies to do business elsewhere in Massachusetts, while ignoring the Cape Cod market. Red lining is immoral, if not illegal. If they want to do business here, force them to do business throughout the Commonwealth.
- Deal with the insurance industry models. If the insurance industry insists on using the current models, make them open to scrutiny. Better yet, pay for a comprehensive model that is specific to Cape Cod and the coastal region. The "bumbling" scientist from Woods Hole had it right. The expertise is out there. Avail yourselves of it. Force the industry to consider the reality of the historic lack of claims on Cape Cod. Force the industry to stop extorting us citizens of Cape Cod on the basis of some phantom prediction that we're going to get annihilated. Make them prove their speculative predictions; and absent that, force them to admit they have been wrong.
- Please consider the insurance industry profits that were outlined to you by Paula Aschettino. They are obscene. It's immoral. It's un-American to allow corporations to profit so tremendously while the people (your constituents) struggle to spill their life blood in trying to pay the extortionate amounts demanded.
- Consider what Cape Cod will be in ten years if current trends continue. There will be massive home owner flight from the Cape. The businesses that currently flourish on the Cape will die. Real estate sales will plummet. Ethnicity, which is already lacking on Cape Cod, will be a pipe dream. The people involved in "low paying" occupations, i.e. police persons, teachers, nurses, care givers, lawn maintenance people, etc. etc. will be gone. The insurance industry premiums are a huge part of this formula, followed by taxes. You have the power to put a brake on this. At least do that until a rational dialogue can be had.
- Please consider the issue of re-insurance. The FAIR Plan is designed as an insurance industry pool, spreading the risk among the several hundred insurance companies that participate. Why do they feel the need to spend $80 Million Dollars of our premiums to buy re-insurance? Aren't the participating insurance companies simply supposed to pitch in and pay for any catastrophe that occurs? The FAIR Plan is frivolously spending our money without any basis. Stop them. Make them pass the costs on to the insurance companies that support them.
- Consider getting the State of Massachusetts out of the insurance business. At the moment the Fair Plan operates in a smoke screen, neither private insurance company nor totally State agency. Admit that it is a State agency and pass legislation to force insurance companies to insure, rather than standing aside and acting like Chicken Little. If the "sky is falling".....do something about it rather than simply crying about it.
- The FAIR plan is one of the most arrogant callous "companies" we all have ever dealt with. If you are out of town and miss your payment by two days, they cancel you. If you augment your deductible and they owe you a rebate, it takes two months for them to process it. The person who does their property inspections is the son of Jack Golembeski. There is no personal approach. It's painful to deal with them. Gentlemen, you're the ones who have the power to reign in their arrogance. Please do it.
I and all the members of our Citizens group would be happy to talk about any of this if you feel it appropriate. I leave you with a thought: Cape Cod may not be important to you who come from Springfield and Plymouth, you whose constituents come from those areas. It is extremely important to a lot of us. We voted overwhelmingly for Governor Patrick. We generally vote heavily in each election. Some of us tend to be wealthier than many in Massachusetts, and many of us are in or come from very serious and rewarding careers. We should not be taken lightly. I am one of those who watches people sign up the Citizens for Homeowners Insurance Reform. We have an incredible number of adherents from all over Massachusetts, from Florida, New Jersey, New York, and many of the inland states. This is a ground swell movement that is gaining in stature by leaps and bounds. People from all over are feeling that the insurance industry is screwing them. Their only recourse is their elected representatives. We hope you're listening gentlemen. There's a lot riding on what you do or don't do on our behalf.
Thanks you for your consideration.