Barry Gilway


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“I think the number one thing the insurance industry can do is link AOB (assignment of benefits) to the impact that it’s having on the individual consumer and the huge impact it’s having on the premiums that the consumer’s paying,” Barry Gilway, president, CEO and executive director of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. told attendees in a recent Insurance Journal webinar on Florida AOB abuse

Education, education, education, Gilway said, will be critical to slowing the Florida AOB epidemic that is leading to higher insurance rates, reduced coverage and a potential insurance market crisis in the state.

Gilway was one of a panel of four experts participating in the “Florida AOB Crisis: Where Does the Industry Go from Here?” webinar conducted by Insurance Journal on June 26.

Logan McFaddin, regional representative for the Property Casualty Insurers Association (PCI), Paul Huszar, CEO of remediation contracting company VetCor, and Patrick Wraight, director of the Insurance Journal Academy of Insurance, joined Gilway in discussing the AOB situation in Florida and ways to rein in what they all agreed is runaway abuse.

The AOB problem in Florida stems from unlicensed water remediation and roofing contractors who have homeowners sign over their insurance policy rights in exchange for needed repairs to their homes. The contractors, typically working with an attorney, file inflated or fake claims, and then pursue lawsuits against insurers when those claims are disputed or denied. Because of Florida’s one-way attorney fee statute, insurers are left footing the bill for the inflated claims and the attorney fees if the insurer is found to have underpaid the claim by any amount.

Carriers across the state have seen an increase in litigation because of these inflated claims. According to the Florida Department of Financial Services, there were 405 AOB lawsuits across all 67 Florida counties in 2006, and by 2016 that number had risen to 28,200.

But Citizens, the state-run insurer of last resort, has borne the brunt of the abuse. It reported in its 2019 rate hearing in June that it would spend $70 million this year defending AOB-related litigation – equal to 17 percent of its total premium.

Please enjoy the full article below;

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/07/19/495520.htm

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The 2018 hurricane season is officially underway, even as the dust continues to settle on the 2017 hurricane season — one of the costliest hurricane years on record — that brought devastation to Florida from Hurricane Irma.

Meanwhile, the Gulf Coast has already received a stark reminder to be prepared from a Memorial Day storm — Tropical Storm Alberto. The cost was at 50 Million per estimates so far!

Irma first hit the Florida Keys as a category 4 storm on Sunday, Sept. 10, with 130-mile per hour winds. It then worked its way north passing over the east and west coasts. Loss estimates from Hurricane Irma ranged between $25 billion to $65 billion by catastrophe modelers.

According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, 90 percent of the 770,658 reported residential property claims had been closed as of April 6, 2018. Total estimated insured losses as of April 12 had reached $8.6 billion. The Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund is expected to pay out $2 billion in claims associated with Irma.

Citizens, the state-run insurer of last resort, said in March it had reopened about 37 percent of Hurricane Irma claims as part of ongoing efforts to assist policyholders affected by the storm. As of March 28, more than 24,500 of 66,400 Irma claims, about 37 percent, were reopened for supplemental payment and to allow policyholders or their representatives to provide additional information.

Overall, Citizens has closed nearly 90 percent of its Hurricane Irma-related claims. Open claims include extensively damaged properties, disputes and those waiting for a contractor to provide a repair estimate.

The National Hurricane Center updated the death toll from Irma in April to 44 fatalities directly caused by strong winds and heavy rains, plus 85 fatalities indirectly linked to the storm.

Still, Irma could have been worse, a fact the Florida insurance industry is aware and mindful of as it heads into the 2018 season

Mother Nature wasted no time starting off the 2018 hurricane season, kicking the Atlantic — and more specifically the Gulf Coast — into high gear several days ahead of the official June 1 start date.

Tropical Storm Alberto hit the Florida Panhandle on May 28, bringing winds, rains, and even the possibility of tornadoes. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said winds from the tropical storm reached up to 65 miles per hour.

There is undoubtedly more to come as the season progresses. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) released its forecast for the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season in May, estimating a total of 10 to 16 named storms, of which five to nine could become hurricanes and one to four expected to become major hurricanes with winds of 111 miles per hour or more. It noted a 75 percent chance that this year will be a near or above normal hurricane season.

Please enjoy the full article below;

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/06/01/490890.htm

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In an open letter to Citizens President, CEO an Executive Director Barry Gilway, Patronis said the state-backed insurer should be subject to the same rules as state agencies and organizations when it comes requiring lobbyists be registered, but as of now that isn’t the case.

“Currently, lobbyists and private insurers are not statutorily required to disclose their efforts on behalf of clients and private interest they represent before Citizens Property Insurance Corporation,” Patronis wrote.

Citizens Legislative Affairs staff currently do register as lobbyists. Patronis’ letter says it is targeted towards those who represent third parties and private interests, such as businesses, and lobby Citizens.

Patronis wrote transparency is “one of the best ways we can ensure accountability,” and that it should be “crystal clear who is interested in influencing Citizens policy changes or securing contracts with [Citizens].”

Please enjoy the full article below;

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/05/04/488273.htm

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Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the Florida state-run insurer of last resort, is anticipating its policyholder count will increase in 2018 for the first time since its efforts to shed policies through depopulation began several years ago.

As it moves on from a tumultuous 2017 that included a major hurricane and ongoing assignment of benefits (AOB) abuse, Citizens executives said at its board of governors meeting last week that it anticipates more than 60,000 policyholders from private insurance companies will return to the state-run insurer of last resort.

Citizens President, CEO and Executive Director Barry Gilway told the board at the Dec. 13 meeting that the Florida domestic insurance market’s combined ratio and surplus have declined, and the majority of Florida insurers experienced negative net income for the first time in five years.

While the active 2017 storm season is one factor contributing to deteriorating insurer results, the biggest factor is increasing costs from nonweather-related losses and AOB abuse fueled by attorneys and contractors. The industry has started taking steps to limit losses from AOB, with some insurers not writing in certain areas of the state where it is the rampant.

Citizens, which is statutorily obligated to offer coverage when the private market will not, will have to pick up these policies. Gilway said he expects Citizens will see significantly less depopulation next year.

“When the market is healthy, and companies are making money, depopulation soars; when it becomes negative, depopulation drops. We are not expecting a lot of depopulation next year,” Gilway said.

Instead, Gilway said, Citizens is expecting its overall policy count of 442,000 – the lowest it has been since the company was formed in 2002 – to climb back up to around 500,000. Citizens policy count reached a high of 1.4 million before the depopulation program began in 2012.

Please read the full article below;

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/12/20/474844.htm

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The 2017 hurricane season begins June 1, yet the Atlantic Ocean already has produced Tropical Storm Arlene, which was only the second named storm on record to have formed in April. Citizens urges you to prepare for this year’s hurricane season and provides the following information to assist you and your staff in preparing.

 

14-17 named storms are expected and 7-9 could become hurricanes as well as 3 major Hurricanes. 2-3 could possibly have a US landfall so please be prepared!!

Storm Watch/Warning Issuance Changes
Due to advances in forecasting, beginning in 2017, the National Weather Service (NWS) may issue advisories, watches and warnings for weather disturbances that are not yet a tropical cyclone but pose a threat of bringing tropical storm or hurricane conditions to land areas within 48 hours. Previously, NWS was not permitted to issue watches and/or warnings until after a tropical cyclone officially had formed.

Customer Outreach Citizens has the following brochures for your Citizens policyholders:

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A bill backed by the insurance industry to curb the abuse of Florida’s one-way attorney fee statute in assignment of benefit claims has stalled as lawmakers opted to instead advance what the insurance industry and the state’s regulator feel is a less effective measure.

The legislative maneuver sparked criticism by the Wall Street Journal of the Senate chair of the key committee, who in turn has accused the industry of mounting a “smear” campaign against her.

The industry setback came on Monday when the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, chaired by Senate President Pro Tempore Anitere Flores (R-Miami, Monroe), left Senate Bill 1038 off its agenda. This bill, drafted by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation with support from the state-run insurer Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and other industry groups, seeks to keep AOB consumer protections in place, but take away the incentive – the one-way attorney fee – that the industry claims is driving abuse by unregulated water mitigation, remediation and roofing contractors typically working with attorney groups

The insurance industry had tempered its expectations of getting the legislation passed because of lobbying by trial attorneys and unlicensed contractors, who the industry says are inflating water damage claims and filing frivolous lawsuits. Under Florida’s current one-way attorney fee statute, policyholders suing their insurer over a claim dispute can recover their attorney’s fees if the insurer is shown to have underpaid the claim, by any amount.

“If you look at the trends of water claims over the last five years – it’s alarming,” Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier told Insurance Journal in February. “Absent any kind of reforms to address those trends, we could be seeing rate increases of 10 percent a year just to keep up.”

Please enjoy the full article below.

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/04/05/446884.htm

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Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will post a net loss for 2016, its first loss in more than a decade, as water loss claims, assignment of benefit (AOB) abuse and litigation costs increasingly impact the company’s bottom line, according to a statement from the Florida state-run insurer.

The Citizens Board of Governors was told Wednesday the state’s insurer of last resort will post a $27.1 million net loss for 2016, its first since 2005. The company said the loss comes despite minimal damage from H

Without significant statutory reforms, Citizens will be forced to pass those higher costs on to its customers in the form of higher rates for the foreseeable future, said Citizens Board of Governors Chairman Chris Gardner.

“Every year, we rely on standardized, accepted actuarial principles to set our rates,” Gardner said “Last year, the same principles that provided rate decreases to our customers in recent years translated into hikes for 84 percent of our policyholders. Without legislative changes, that trend will continue.”

hurricane Matthew, the first major hurricane to impact Florida in 11 years

Please enjoy the full article below;

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/03/29/446071.htm

 

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