Florida Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher accused Allstate yesterday of seeking to avoid public scrutiny of a 28 percent rate increase, which the company said it needs to stay financially healthy.

"It has become apparent that Allstate Insurance Company plans to file a 28 percent statewide average rate hike in July but has already begun sending the bills to Florida homeowners," Mr. Gallagher said. "Allstate's move to implement a rate hike and then file for approval blatantly ignores a new law that requires a public hearing for any rate request exceeding 15 percent. This is unconscionable."

Mr. Gallagher said the insurer has "broken faith" with Florida consumers. He added: "This conduct is even more reprehensible considering just four months ago Allstate's chairman, Edward Liddy, characterized the company's 2004 financial performance as a 'great year for Allstate' and said, 'We're growing and generating solid returns for our shareholders.'"

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