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A view from the insurance office--1989-1995 and 2001-2007.

One of the highlights of my career as insurance commissioner and treasurer has to be that cover photo on Florida Underwriter's December 2002 issue. This magazine depicted me clad in a suit of armor, holding a bodacious sword. "Gallagher's Crusade," they called it. The article talked about "my" fight to reform the workers' compensation system.

The story called me--well, it called me quite a few things, actually--"without a doubt ... the most activist public official in state government," and said that I "thrived on conceiving sweeping reform plans and waging the quixotic battle."

Guilty.

But I thought then--and still do--that sometimes things need "shaking up." Often the result is positive. Just a few months after that cover story, the Legislature passed SB50-A, which Florida Underwriter went on to call "a once-in-a-decade reform bill."

I was also responsible for "shaking up" the property insurance arena by devising and pushing the Legislature into creating the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund in 1993 (amidst quite a few naysayers); coming up with the idea of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. in 2002, with only my staff (probably because they were on the payroll) believing in its viability; managing the inaugural year of the My Safe Florida Home program in 2006 (when Florida actually had a viable budget); and making repeated annual calls beginning in 1993 for federal legislation to create a national catastrophe fund (that was before Hurricane Katrina, the FEMA debacle, and our multi-hurricane seasons).

I also was a vocal opponent of credit scoring by insurance companies that sell homeowners and auto insurance, although today I see that issue through a new set of glasses. (The fact that I am now on the "other side of the table" has absolutely nothing to do with my change of view!)

Currently, Florida's CFO Alex Sink, legislators, consumers, and members of the industry are wrestling with--let's see--workers' compensation, the Cat Fund, Citizens, home-mitigation funding, and credit scoring.

The more things change, the more they remain the same. And Florida Underwriter continues to report on them. Congratulations on 25 years.

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Tom Gallagher served as Florida's treasurer and insurance commissioner from January 1989 to January 1995. He was again elected to that post in January 2001. Legislation passed during the 2002 Session merged the departments of Insurance and Banking and Finance into the new Department of Financial Services. In January 2003, Gallagher became Florida's first chief financial officer, serving through January 2007. Gallagher resides in Tallahassee, where he continues to be involved in the insurance industry. He may be contacted at TomGallagher3@gmail.com.
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Title Annotation:CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF FLORIDA UNDERWRITER
Author:Gallagher, Tom
Publication:Florida Underwriter
Date:May 1, 2009
Words:426
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