Tuesday, June 26, 2007

'Shop And Compare' Insurance Rates - Thumbs Down

Governor's New Effort To Appease Citizens A Time Waster

LABELLE, FL -- Governor Charlie Crist today announced the launch of "Shop and Compare Rates," a Web site that assists consumers comparing homeowners insurance rates throughout Florida. In Miami, the Governor ceremonially signed legislation to continue insurance reforms by freezing Citizens Property Insurance rates and implementing additional measures to help stabilize the insurance market.

"Many Florida homeowners find it difficult and frustrating to compare the cost of homeowners insurance," said Governor Crist. "This site is a valuable tool and serves as starting point to help Floridians find the insurance policy best suited to their needs."

Well, yes and no Governor.  As hard as they try to convince the public they are helping, the politicians are only slapping themselves on the back for the great job they are doing while not contributing anything of substance for the consumer public. We tried the new insurance website and found it a terrific waste of time. The Sunday Morning News has been contacting insurance regulators for months about improving the access to insurance information available to consumers. Today, what looked like a good effort in disclosing rates by insurance companies, turns out to be a disaster as far as helping any consumer find access to affordable insurance.

"Shop and Compare Rates" is an interactive tool available at online at www.ShopAndCompareRates.com. The program assists consumers with comparing homeowners insurance rates in all 67 Florida counties. By clicking on each county, a consumer will see a pop-up window with a representative sample of companies and rates for insuring a typical Florida home. The list of insurers is sorted from the lowest to highest cost and provides a link to the company�s contact information.

Unfortunately, the companies listed can not and will not give you a quote or sell you insurance but will tell you to contact an agent.  Expect to be put on hold for considerable time while they look up an agent's phone number for you. When you contact an agent, you will be in for more surprises as they most likely will tell you they don't sell insurance for that company.  The website also uses an example of a 5-year old home, so most likely the agent will also tell you that there are only one or two companies that will write a policy for you instead of the dozens found on the Governor's new website.   The bottom line:  skip this website and keep contacting your government officials for real help in getting better insurance rates and consumer information.

Commissioner Kevin McCarty of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation joined Governor Crist in Tallahassee for the announcement and ceremonial bill signing and provided a demonstration of the "Shop and Compare Rates" Web site.

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