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Jeff Atwater kicks-off Florida Chamber’s Insurance Summit with message of optimism

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

CFO Jeff Atwater kicked off the Florida Chamber of Commerce‘s annual Insurance Summit convention in Orlando Monday with a message of optimism

Citing a list of past successes for state insurers including reforms to the state workers’ compensation regime back in 2003 (“I thought that was a busy summer!” he noted wryly, referring to the Tallahassee budget travails of this year), Atwater told the crowd he is “really excited” to take part in the Summit.

Atwater noted that in his tenure, the state has arrested more than 4,000 insurance fraudsters, closed down 181 clinics designed to aid dubious claims and seen a rise out-of-state insurers opening up shop in Florida.

Fresh from a national meeting of state treasurers, Atwater told the assembled group he wouldn’t trade places with any of his counterparts.

“We’ve got GDP growth rates growing well above the national average,” said Atwater. “With all that economic activity – second-home buying, new home buying is up – we’ve got about 20,000 homes trading hands in Florida, and 13 percent up in single-family housing permits in Florida.”

“So if you’re in that business, boy is that an opportunity,” said Atwater.

Atwater noted last year’s increase in in migration – about 1 percent, or 300,000 residents – also presented opportunities for insurers.

“They’re coming because they see a Florida that offers them a chance. And that’s what you’ve been asking us for – to create the conditions for success,” said Atwater.

Atwater also cited the most recent Mercatus study released by George Mason University, which ranks Florida 5th in the nation for fiscal discipline.

“What that just shows you is that anybody wanting to move capital is going to pick the place out where they’re not going to be trapped,” said Atwater. “They’re not going to get trapped under debt, they’re not going to get buried by new taxes. Those are the things that really set us up well. And those are the public policies that are going to keep us in good stead.”

The Chamber’s annual insurance summit is set to run until Wednesday afternoon.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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