Governor Rick Scott


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Florida now has legislation backed by the top Florida insurance regulator and the industry that promises to curtail homeowners insurance abuse under the assignment of benefits (AOB) feature.

Senate Bill 1038, filed Feb. 17 by State Sen. Dorothy Hukill and co-sponsored by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, seeks to clarify the intent of the assignment of benefits provision for policyholders and limit the scope of benefits provided to those other than the named insured on the policy

The assignment of benefits bill would also instill specified conditions for assignment agreements to be valid. The bill stipulates that an assignment agreement will not be valid unless it meets the following conditions:

  • Agreement is in writing and is executed by all named insureds
  • Allows insureds to rescind the assignment agreement within seven business days without penalty
  • Requires the assignee to provide a copy of the assigned agreement to the insured no later than three business days after the agreement is executed;
  • And includes a written, itemized, per-unit cost estimate of the work to be performed by the assignee.

Other stipulations of the bill include: prohibiting certain provisions in an assignment agreement; specifying requirements for an assignee or transferee; and requiring an assignee to meet certain requirements as a condition precedent to filing suit under a policy.

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. The goal of the bill is to keep the assignment of benefits consumer protection in place, but take away the incentive – the one-way attorney fee – that the industry claims is driving abuse by assignees, who have included unregulated water mitigation, remediation and roofing contractors typically working with attorney groups.

If passed by the Legislature and signed into law, the bill would become effective July 1, 2017

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/02/28/443010.htm

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The Florida Cabinet has selected David Altmaier to be the state’s new insurance commissioner.

Altmaier, 34, is currently a deputy commissioner within the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. He will replace Kevin McCarty, who is stepping down after 13 years on the job

Altmaier was one of three candidates, all OIR employees, interviewed at a special Cabinet meeting today.

He was selected after members of the Cabinet could not agree at previous meetings or at today’s on other candidates including Rep. Bill Hager; Jeffrey Bragg, a former federal insurance official; or Belinda Miller, who is OIR chief of staff.

Florida law requires that the governor and CFO must agree on the choice of an insurance commissioner, who can then be hired with the support of at least one other Cabinet member.

Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam joined Gov. Rick Scott and CFO Jeff Atwater in supporting Altmaier.

 

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2016/04/29/407083.htm

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For the second time in a month, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater could not reach an agreement over who will become the next insurance commissioner for the state.

At the April 26 Florida Cabinet Meeting, Cabinet Members Scott, Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam interviewed a total of four candidates from the 71 applicants who applied to the position. The spot will soon be vacated by current Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, who announced his plan to resign earlier this year.

McCarty said back in January that he would resign effective May 2. The Cabinet then opened up an online application with the goal of appointing a successor at its March 29 meeting, before the start of hurricane season. However, at the March meeting, Scott refused to second Atwater’s nomination of Hager. The Cabinet needs to reach a unanimous decision on the choice with Atwater and Scott’s votes carrying the most weight.

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2016/04/27/406601.htm

 

News of who will replace Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty has yet to be announced, but whoever takes over will have his or her work cut out for them when McCarty leaves office after 12 years on May 2.

“These are some pretty huge shoes to fill and it’s going to be tough,” said Jay Neal, president and CEO of the Florida Association for Insurance Reform (FAIR). “We need someone who is experienced in that role or we will see problems.”

No candidates have been confirmed as potential replacements, as of yet, but a few names have been floated so far. Two Florida movers rumored to be in the running include Florida State Rep. Bill Hager, a former Iowa Insurance Commissioner, former president and CEO of the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) and current vice chair of the state Insurance and Banking subcommittee; and Tom Grady, former interim president of Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

Hager has been vocal for flood insurance reform in the state, an issue that has also been a major focus for McCarty over the last six months. Hager told Insurance Journal last fall that lawmakers were “turning up the heat” on the National Flood Insurance Program’s ratemaking practices.

Grady is currently awaiting confirmation by the State Senate to the Florida Board of Education after he was appointed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott in Oct. He was accused of allowing “excessive” travel expenses during his short-lived position with Citizens.

There is also the possibility that a candidate Scott considered last year, Louisiana Deputy Commissioner of Consumer Advocacy Ron Henderson, could be in the running again.

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2016/01/08/394524.htm

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin M. McCarty announced today that he is resigning effective May 2, 2016 after 12 years in the post to pursue other job opportunities, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR).

McCarty has served as the only appointed insurance commissioner for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation since the office was created in 2003.

McCarty’s tenure has been a tumultuous yet productive one. Originally appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush, McCarty presided over the state’s sometimes volatile homeowners and auto insurance markets, a number of devastating hurricanes, and several financial and insurance-related crises.

Last year, he survived an ouster bid by current Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Gov. Rick Scott’s Communications Direct, Jackie Schutz, issued the following statement to Insurance Journal on the news:

“We appreciate his service to the state and we wish him the best of luck in his next endeavor.”

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2016/01/05/393831.htm

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It was another busy year for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR). From conducting the annual property/casualty data call and subsequent stress test of Florida property insurers, to working on the depopulation efforts of Citizens, to calling out the National Flood Insurance Program on Florida’s “unfair” flood insurance rates, Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty has addressed some important insurance issues facing his state in 2015.

In the middle of it all, McCarty overcame rumors of being replaced, testified before U.S. lawmakers on behalf of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), was recognized with a lifetime achievement award by the Florida Association for Insurance Reform (FAIR) in September, as well as honored with the Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies “Insurance Man of the Year” award in December.

In a wide-ranging interview with Insurance Journal in November, McCarty talked about how he approaches his position after all these years and shared his views on the important issues facing Florida.

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2015/12/21/392698.htm

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation’s top executive warned the company’s Board of Governors Wednesday that water loss claims will continue to hamper efforts to reduce rates for many Florida policyholders.

“In claims the critical issue that has surfaced in the past two years is ‘water damage’ claims and this issue is severely impacting the loss picture in South Florida and the rates paid by tri-county constituents,” said President, CEO and Executive Director Barry Gilway.

Since January, 141,680 Citizens customers have found coverage from private companies in the state, the company said in a statement, which has allowed Citizens to shrink to under 586,000 policies from a peak of nearly 1.5 million in 2012.

Still, water loss remains a challenge for Citizens, with 50 percent of all reported new reported claims in 2013 being water damage related. It is especially a problem in Miami-Dade County where water loss claims now account for more than half of every premium dollar collected. If water claims there mirrored trends in other parts of the state, Citizens said, more than nine out of 10 Miami-Dade policyholders would see rate reductions for 2016. Instead, the Office of Insurance Regulation last month approved rates that call for an average 8.1 percent increase for Miami-Dade customers.

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2015/10/01/383481.htm

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