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Byline: CORY REISS WASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON -- Bill Nelson told a House subcommittee the federal government must help a troubled insurance industry keep coverage available in disaster-prone states.
"No one state, and no one insurance company," he said, "can withstand the big one."
That was in 1997, when Nelson was the Florida insurance commissioner wrestling with the wreckage of Hurricane Andrew five years before. Nelson was reshaping the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, a state insurance backstop created in 1993 to cover extreme losses.
Today, Florida is still paying for the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons with skyrocketing insurance rates and depletion of the state Cat Fund, as it is known -- just the situation Nelson feared nine years ago.
Now Nelson, a Democrat, is on Capitol Hill as a senator, again pressing for federal intervention in the insurance market.
Other Florida lawmakers, including Reps. Ginny Brown-Waite and Mark Foley, both Republicans, also are pressing bills intended to help the insurance industry and presumably consumers in case of megadisasters.
Many lawmakers, however, are wary of inserting the federal government into the insurance marketplace. The industry and consumer advocates also are divided.
A hearing Wednesday by the same housing panel that heard from Nelson nine years ago will reignite debate over whether the federal government and other states should follow in …