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Fla. lawmaker asks cat modelers for projections


TALLAHASSEE, Fla.--Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio has asked four catastrophe modeling firms to turn over copies of their hurricane loss projection models and the factors and assumptions behind them, "including proprietary information," by noon Thursday.

The demand came as Florida prepares for next week's special legislative session devoted to insurance.

A spokesman for Rep. Rubio said the West Miami Republican was concerned about modelers' use of five-year projections of hurricane activity to project possible losses. "It's a constant concern for him," said the spokesman. "We're hoping that they comply, but the House reserves the right to subpoena them if they don't" comply with the request, the spokesman said.

Rep. Rubio's letters, dated Jan. 9, went to Boston-based AIR Worldwide; Raleigh, N.C.-based Applied Research Associates Inc.; Oakland, Calif.-based EQECAT Inc.; and Newark, Calif.-based Risk Management Solutions Inc.

The speaker requested the same information from Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty as well.

Newly inaugurated Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, Florida Senate President Ken Pruitt and Rep. Rubio announced the special session, which will begin Jan. 16.

"The call is expressly focused on lowering current property insurance premiums and reducing the future rate of growth of insurance costs," they said in a joint statement. "It also addresses improving the availability and stability of property insurance in Florida and dealing with the state's building code."

Targets of the probe said no letter had arrived by Wednesday morning.

"At this point we have not received the letter, so we're not in a position to be able to comment on our position until we see the details of the letter," said Josh Darr, director of North American Climate Hazards Modeling for RMS. "We are disappointed that we heard about the letter through the media first, but when we receive the letter, we will evaluate and take action as necessary."

"We haven't received the letter yet, and we can't comment on it," said Tom Larsen, senior vp at EQECAT. "EQECAT is committed to helping lawmakers understand the methodology of our model, and we intend to work with them to determine and discuss the kind of information they need."