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Insurers Cannot Drop Gun Owners Or Charge More

By Charles Elmore, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

June 20--Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Friday saying insurers cannot deny coverage or charge more because of gun or ammunition ownership in Florida.

That pleased Richard Paige, a condo resident who said Allstate's Castle Key company ended his policy because it thought he had a lot of ammunition where he lived in Broward County.

"I'm very happy about it," Paige said Friday. He said HB 424 bars discrimination against gun owners like himself.

Opponents including Rep. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, argued the bill interfered with the free market to tell insurers they cannot assess gun-related risks, and the term discrimination in the bill's title mocked genuine bias against minorities and women.

"Gun owners are going to say yes, yes, yes, because it's got the word gun in it," Rader said. "But this is really about the free market."

Scott did not include a statement about the issue in an announcement noting he signed dozens of bills Friday, though the signing was expected. A spokesman noted in April the governor, running for re-election, "supports the Second Amendment."

Paige was not mentioned by name, but his case was discussed in legislative debate. Some critics suggested it might have been the only recent, documented case in the state, though gun advocates disputed that. The National Rifle Association was an enthusiastic supporter of the bill, which affects property and auto policies.

One industry group, the Florida Insurance Council, warned as the bill was being debated it could have unintended consequences.

"Agents have routinely asked people applying for homeowners insurance if they have art, jewelry, guns and other special collections," said Sam Miller, the council's executive vice president. For those wanting coverage above standard limits, he said, "It will be up to people with large gun collections to ask the agent about coverage."

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(c)2014 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

Visit The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.) at www.palmbeachpost.com

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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