Legislators


The recent legislative session in Tallahassee was relatively quiet, a matter some attribute to this being an election year. But even in quiet years, Florida lawmakers tend to make some noise about the insurance industry and this year was no different.

When insurance is a topic among Florida lawmakers, the surplus lines industry is typically brought into the discussions, more so than in other states.

Douglas Mang, of the law firm Mang & Santurri, P.A., who serves as general counsel for the Florida Surplus Lines Association, says there is a good reason for this. The legislature deals with difficult insurance issues and the surplus lines industry specializes in answering difficult questions.

“When there is a need, then it’s the surplus lines industry that fills that void. They have in many, many instances, at least during the time that I’ve been involved with it,” Mang toldInsurance Journal. “So they should be in the mix, if for no better reason than that’s their whole purpose, to provide a market for the hard‑to‑place risk. When those issues arise, that’s where they ought to be.”

Some of what Florida lawmakers did this session could create opportunities for the surplus lines industry, whereas in other cases, their actions frustrated opportunities for the surplus lines industry.

Lawmakers agreed to make changes to laws governing insurance agent and surplus lines licensing (HB633), private flood insurance (SB542), a homeowners’ bill of rights (SB708) and, of course, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. (SB1672).

Please ad the full article below and please call L & S at 1-888-244-7400 for quotes on Home, Auto, Flood, Business & Commercial & Life & Financial products as well.

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2014/08/20/338227.htm

Florida regulators have taken over an insolvent domestic residential property insurer, but a deal is in the works for another private company to assume the insurer’s 37,000 policies.

A Leon County Circuit Court judge issued an order earlier this week clearing the way for the state Department of Financial Services to take over Sunshine State Insurance Co.

In issuing the liquidation order, the judge cleared the way for United Property & Casualty Insurance Co. (UPC), which had looked into buying the insurer but pulled out of those talks, to assume Sunshine State’s existing policies.

Sunshine State’s financial woes became apparent in February when the insurer first reported to regulators that it would fail to meet a March 1 deadline to file its 2013 annual financial statement. Sunshine State reported that it had discovered an accounting error related to its 2008 and 2011 catastrophic reinsurance treaties. The cost of fixing those errors, plus an operation loss in the fourth quarter of 2013, forced the company officials to tell state regulators that it could no longer meet the state’s surplus requirements.

Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty then ordered Sunshine State to either increase its surplus by $15 million or be acquired or recapitalized by another company along with a good faith deposit as of May 15.

McCarty further ordered that if Sunshine State could not meet the May deadline, the insurer would be required to transfer its policies to another insurer or provide a 45-day written cancellation notice to its 37,684 policyholders.

United Insurance Holdings Corp., parent of UPC,  expressed an interest in purchasing Sunshine State in a letter of intent on May 15, the date regulators set for Sunshine State to either increase its surplus by $15 million or find a buyer.

However, a few weeks later, UPC President John Forney, in a letter to regulators, said that after a further review of Sunshine State it would no longer keep that commitment.

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2014/06/04/331022.htm

Responding to pleas from highway troopers and the state’s sheriffs, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday he will veto a bill that could increase the speed limit on Florida highways from 70 to 75 mph.

Scott said that he has decided to “stand with law enforcement” who urged him to veto the legislation that narrowly passed the Florida Legislature late last month.

“I want everybody to stay safe, I don’t want anybody to be injured,” Scott said. “I think by doing this we are doing the right thing for our troopers and the right thing for law enforcement. I’ve been to too many law-enforcement funerals.”

The bill (SB 392) would not raise speed limits automatically, but would allow the Department of Transportation to increase them when it saw fit. The department could also raise the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph on rural, four-lane divided highways and up to 65 mph on other roads.

Legislators only approved the bill after a contentious debate where opponents said raising Florida’s speed limits would embolden motorists to drive faster and result in more accidents.

Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, and one of the sponsors of the bill, contended that the safety concerns were not accurate.

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2014/05/15/329313.htm

The Florida legislature has approved legislation setting out new insurer solvency requirements while also requiring individuals to disclose information about any affiliated company.

Sponsored by Senator David Simmons (R-Altamonte Springs) and Representative Clay Ingram (R-Pensacola), the bill (SB 1308) closely follows a National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) model act developed after the 2008 financial crisis.

The bill touches on a number of areas with the goal of streamlining the regulatory oversight. It provides regulators with more information to determine an insurer’s overall financial status.

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said the bill would help protect policyholders by ensuring that insurers are properly capitalized.

Central to the bill is a provision that requires holding companies to disclose information about their operations. A holding company must annually provide a risk report to regulators. The report must contain detailed information about the firm’s business plan, developments in its risk management programs and any rating agency information.

Insurers also file annual reports with actuarial opinions on reserves and actuarial summaries.

The bill also sets out new reporting requirements related to individuals divesting their financial position in a company or investing in a company.

Among the changes are the revised definition of a controlling person as one having 10 percent of the ownership or interest in an insurer. Previously, an individual needed to have 25 percent ownership or interest of an insurer.

Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for quotes on Home, Auto, Flood, Business & Commercial, & Life & Financial products as well. Please enjoy the full article below;

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2014/05/04/328025.htm

The Florida House has rejected a proposal that could shift homeowners away from the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance and into private surplus lines insurers.

Rep. John Wood, R-Winter Haven, said that the issue was dead for this year’s session.

Lawmakers have taken several steps over the last few years to try to steer people away from the state-created Citizens. Citizens was set up initially to be an insurer of last resort but it grew as Florida was hit by hurricanes and private insurers sought to limit their exposure in the Sunshine State.

Last year, legislators approved creating a clearinghouse that requires insurance agents to look at offers from private insurers before allowing someone to purchase a Citizens policy. A customer is ineligible for Citizens if one of the insurers charges premiums that are within 15 percent of Citizens rates.

The Senate bill as originally passed would have added surplus line insurers to those that could be offered through the clearinghouse starting in January.

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2014/04/30/327963.htm

The Florida Senate on Friday voted 22-16 for a property insurance bill that could result in homeowners seeking coverage from Citizens to be shifted to a private surplus line insurance company. Surplus line companies are not subjected to the same regulations as companies based in the state.

Several senators objected to the legislation, including Republicans who live in areas with heavy concentrations of customers with the state-created Citizens.

“We have insurance regulation in the state of Florida for a good reason,” said Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth. “It’s to make sure consumers in Florida aren’t being taking advantage of.”

The Senate bill (SB 1672) would add surplus line insurers to those insurers that could be offered business through the clearinghouse starting in January.

Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, defended the bill and said it would give homeowners another choice for coverage. He said homeowners would be told ahead of time that the surplus line insurers are not regulated the same way as other insurers.

Simmons added that homeowners would also be allowed to move back to Citizens after receiving coverage from the surplus line insurer. He also noted some Floridians already insure their homes with these type of insurers.

Fort Lauderdale customers are among those that could be affected by this as well as Tampa residents in the Sinkhole areas. Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for quotes on Home, Auto, Flood, Business & Commercial, and Life & financial products as well. Please enjoy the full article below.

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2014/04/28/327411.htm

Citizens launched the clearinghouse at the end of January, making it the latest tool for the insurer to reduce its 940,000-plus policyholders.

Until recently, four insurers were participating in the clearinghouse program including Ark Royal Insurance Co., Cabrillo Coastal General Insurance Co., Florida Peninsula Insurance Co., and United Property & Casualty Insurance Co.

As of March 30, six other insurers had joined the clearinghouse: American Traditions Insurance Co., Modern USA Insurance Co., Federated National Insurance Co., First Community Insurance Co., Heritage Insurance Co., and the Tower Hill Insurance Group.

So far, the clearinghouse has led to 1,173 Citizens applications being deemed ineligible for Citizens’ coverage, representing $302 million in exposure. Of those, 658 applications have been confirmed as finding coverage with one of the participating insurers.

That number, however, is just a fraction of the number of applicants being submitted by agents. As of March 3, the latest data available, agents have submitted 26,714 requests for coverage, of which fewer than 20 percent received an offer of coverage from one of the four participating insurers.

Professional Insurance Agents of Florida CEO Corey Matthews said that it is far too soon to measure the success of the clearinghouse. However, he said, so far insurers are not appointing as many agents as hoped for.

Even so, said Matthews, agents remain optimistic that eventually it will open new markets to them.

Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for quotes on Home, Flood, Auto, Business & Commercial and Life & Financial products as well. Please enjoy the full article below;

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2014/04/09/325829.htm

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