Insurance commissioner


Please call Lee at Acentria Insurance at 954-270-7966 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial , Li fe, Health and group benefits large & small.

 

Like thousands of other Floridians, I recently received my homeowner’s insurance renewal statement only to learn that my premium was increasing by a double-digit percentage – nearly $600 annually. But like most homeowners who have a mortgage and who pay insurance and property taxes through an escrow account, I won’t have to pay anything out-of-pocket yet. It will be a year from now when the pain will come.

I will receive a new escrow calculation showing that my monthly mortgage payment will increase – not only to make up for the shortfall from the previous year’s premium increase, but also to pay the increased premium for the following renewal year – a total of $1,200 for the year, or $100 extra per month.

And if rates continue to increase as they did this year, I and virtually every other Florida homeowner will continue to see our mortgage payments increase this way year after year after year.

Seniors on a fixed income, working families struggling to make ends meet, people saving for college or retirement, and the rest of us who would simply rather keep more of our earnings will suffer. It will feel no different than a huge tax increase, but at least taxes pay for useful things like schools, roads, police, and firefighters. The proceeds from this increase will be used to pay fraudsters.

Real estate values will also take a hit because the more we spend on insurance, the fewer dollars we can apply to the actual mortgage payment. If you want to sell your house, there will be fewer people who can afford it. Lower demand means lower prices. We have only recently experienced in the last decade how a soft real estate market drags down the overall economy.

There is only one entity that can act to reverse course on these rate increases and protect our real estate-driven economy: the Florida State Legislature. There are two reforms legislators can enact that will provide relief from relentless insurance premium rate hikes: 1) reduce systematic fraud by preventing abusive and needless assignments of benefits litigation, and 2) lower the cost of reinsurance by reforming the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, a move that would decrease rates by 8 to 10 percent.

The time to act is now. Even if the proposed reforms are passed during the next legislative session in 2019, homeowners will have to wait until 2020 or beyond to feel relief through mortgage payments that go down instead of up.

That’s a long way off – way past the November elections. But candidates we elect in November will be the ones who must act.

If we want lower rates in the future we need to commit to do two things today: 1) get candidates to state on the record that they will fight for both reforms, and 2) have memories like elephants if they don’t. There are plenty of special interest groups who will pressure them to resist. Go to http://www.floridainsurancereform.org/petition to learn more about these two specific reforms and sign a petition demanding action. Elected officials must fear accountability from Florida voters more than the pressure of special interest groups. We need at least a quarter million signatures to show them that we expect and deserve action

Please enjoy the full article below and respond as well

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/06/07/491458.htm

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Please call Lee from Acentria Insurance for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial and Life, health & group coverage as well.

A Florida man has been sentenced to more than a year in prison for his role in a $23 million auto insurance fraud involving chiropractors’ clinics.

The SunSentinel reports 55-year-old Jason Dalley wept in court April 16 as a judge sentenced him to spend a year and nine months in prison and pay more than $1.8 million in restitution

Dalley admitted he was part of a group of clinic owners, chiropractors and attorneys involved in the scheme. Court records show the fraud involving clinics in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties brought in at least $23 million from 10 insurance companies between 2010 and 2017.

Dalley ran a personal injury and criminal defense law firm in Boca Raton. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit health care, mail and wire fraud.

Please enjoy the full article below;

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/04/20/486981.htm

Please call Lee at 954-270-7966 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial and Life, Health and group benefit policies.

 

Please read below how for 3 years in a row now AOB is still not resolved. Our Legislators in Tallahassee receive t much PAC money so why solve problems and help the consumer. instead we will see an average of 15% rate hikes for several years because they cannot agree on to much.

 

SB1168, by Senator Steube, passed two of its committee of three committees, but that’s as far as this onerous version of AOB reform ultimately got prior to stalling out in the Senate. SB1168 also amended current law to provide that a misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact, or incorrect statement on an insurance application may prevent recovery only if the misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact, or incorrect statement directly relates to the cause of the claim. If the misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact or incorrect statement directly relates to the cause of the claim, one of the following must have applied:

  • The misrepresentation, omission, concealment, or statement is fraudulent or is material to the acceptance of the risk or to the hazard assumed by the insurer; or
  • If the true facts relative to the loss claimed had been known to the insurer pursuant to a policy requirement or other requirement, the insurer in good faith would not have:
    • Issued the policy or contract;
    • Issued the policy or contract at a premium rate at least 20 percent higher than the rate actually charged;
    • Issued a policy or contract in as large an amount; or
    • Provided coverage with respect to the hazard resulting in the loss.

In addition, SB1168 also would have amended current law to prohibit an insurer from utilizing “managed repair” controls, such as requiring that a particular vendor make repairs to a dwelling insured on the basis of replacement costs. It also prohibits the insurer from even recommending or suggesting a particular vendor to make repairs to a dwelling insured on the basis of replacement costs.

 

The bill required the assignee to provide a copy of the assignment agreement to the insurer within the earlier of 7 days after execution of the agreement, or 48 hours after beginning nonemergency work if the insurer has a facsimile number and e-mail address on its website designated for the delivery of such documents. It allowed the insurer to inspect the property at any time. If the insurer fails to attempt in good faith to inspect the property within 7 days after learning of the loss and promptly deliver to the assignee written notice of any perceived deficiency in the assignee’s notice or the work being performed; however, the failure may be raised to estop the insurer from asserting that work done was not reasonably necessary or that the notice was insufficient. We worked hard to stop this bill from advancing or being amended onto other legislation.

 

Industry’s preferred AOB bill, SB62 by Senator Hukill, was never scheduled for a committee hearing by the Banking & Insurance committee in the Senate.

 

Meanwhile, the Florida House of Representatives AOB reform, HB 7015 by Representative Trumbull was sent to the Senate in the first week of the legislative session. While the House version was not a perfect solution, the bill makes significant changes to the way property repair vendors are restricted in their use of an “assignment of benefits” or “AOB.”   The bill requires disclosures be provided to insureds before entering into an AOB. It moved to a “loser pays” attorney fee system. The House legislation provided the insured with an opportunity to rescind the assignment within 7 days of entering into the contract with the vendor. Further, the bill increased consumer protections and required vendors to provide written estimates of the work to be completed and required the assignee to notify the insurer of the assignment within 3 days of it being executed.   While it would be better to eliminate attorneys’ fees to repair vendors altogether, this bill would have been an improvement over the current system.

 

In the end, the House and Senate versions of AOB never matched up. This issue will be revisited next session.

Please call Lee Gorodetsky@954-270-7966 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial & life, health Investments & group benefits as well.

PROPERTY

  1. AOB REFORM  SB62/SB1168/HB7015

 

An onerous version of AOB reform is on the move in the Senate. SB1168, by Senator Steube, passed its second committee of three committees on February 6th, but no action last week. SB1168 also amends current law to provide that a misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact, or incorrect statement on an insurance application may prevent recovery only if the misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact, or incorrect statement directly relates to the cause of the claim. If the misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact or incorrect statement directly relates to the cause of the claim, one of the following must apply:

  • The misrepresentation, omission, concealment, or statement is fraudulent or is material to the acceptance of the risk or to the hazard assumed by the insurer; or
  • If the true facts relative to the loss claimed had been known to the insurer pursuant to a policy requirement or other requirement, the insurer in good faith would not have:
    • Issued the policy or contract;
    • Issued the policy or contract at a premium rate at least 20 percent higher than the rate actually charged;
    • Issued a policy or contract in as large an amount; or
    • Provided coverage with respect to the hazard resulting in the loss.

 

In addition, SB1168 also amends current law to prohibit an insurer from utilizing “managed repair” controls, such as requiring that a particular vendor make repairs to a dwelling insured on the basis of replacement costs. It also prohibits the insurer from even recommending or suggesting a particular vendor to make repairs to a dwelling insured on the basis of replacement costs.

 

The bill also requires the assignee to provide a copy of the assignment agreement to the insurer within the earlier of 7 days after execution of the agreement, or 48 hours after beginning nonemergency work if the insurer has a facsimile number and e-mail address on its website designated for the delivery of such documents. It allows the insurer to inspect the property at any time. If the insurer fails to attempt in good faith to inspect the property within 7 days after learning of the loss and promptly deliver to the assignee written notice of any perceived deficiency in the assignee’s notice or the work being performed; however, the failure may be raised to estop the insurer from asserting that work done was not reasonably necessary or that the notice was insufficient.

SB1168 passed the Judiciary committee with 7 yeas, and 3 nays in week five. Committee Chairman Greg Steube pushed an amendment that eliminated language that prohibits carriers from factoring any attorney fees into their premium. The bill now has one more committee in the Senate. We continue working to stop this bill from advancing.

Industry’s preferred AOB bill is SB62 by Senator Hukill, which has not been scheduled for a committee hearing and is unlikely to advance given the composition of the Banking & Insurance committee in the Senate.

 

Meanwhile, the Florida House of Representatives AOB reform HB 7015 by Representative Trumbull was sent to the Senate in the first week of the legislative session. While the House version is not a perfect solution, the bill makes significant changes to the way property repair vendors are restricted in their use of an “assignment of benefits” or “AOB.”   The bill requires disclosures be provided to insureds before entering into an AOB. It also moves to a “loser pays” attorney fee system. The House legislation provides the insured with an opportunity to rescind the assignment within 7 days of entering into the contract with the vendor. Further, the bill increases consumer protections and required vendors to provide written estimates of the work to be completed and required the assignee to notify the insurer of the assignment within 3 days of it being executed.   While it would be better to eliminate attorneys’ fees to repair vendors altogether, this bill is an improvement over the current system.

 

In the end, it is unlikely that the House and Senate versions of AOB will match up. But if the House bill moves toward the Senate version, it will be a weaker product and possibly even onerous.

Please call Lee at Acentria Insurance at 954-351-1960 or 954-270-7966 for free information or quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial & Life, group & Financial products as well.

The hurricane season is officially over, but it didn’t go by without leaving a major mark on Florida and its insurance industry.

Hurricane Irma, a name most in the state won’t soon forget, 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 have ranged between $25 billion to $65 billion by catastrophe modelers. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) reported total estimated insured losses at more than $5.8 billion as of Nov. 13, with more than 689,000 residential property claims and 51,396 commercial property claims. Business interruption claims reached more than 3,700 as of Nov. 3.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, 6.7 million homes and businesses — about 65 percent of the state — were without power.

The Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund said the state fund that provides backing to private insurers would pay about $5.1 billion in claims. Florida estimated it had spent nearly $650 million on emergency resources and clean up from the storm.

Florida’s state-run insurer of last resort, Citizens, expects $1.2 billion in insured losses and 70,000 Hurricane Irma claims over the next 18-24 months. The carrier said Nov. 29 it had closed nearly two-thirds of the 62,000 claims it had seen so far, including more than 42,400 claims in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties.

The damage to Florida crops was also epic. According to The Associated Press, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Irma’s path couldn’t have been “more lethal” for Florida agriculture, with few crops spared. More than half of the state’s iconic orange crop is estimated to be lost.

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/11/30/472582.htm

Please call   Gateway/ Acentria Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Business & Commercial & Life & Disability as well as group Benefits. I am the Home Insurance Guru now the VP of personal Lines marketing at Acentria Insurance.

 

VIII. Private Flood Insurance Bill (HB 813)

 

HB 813 mandates that the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Prevention Methodology revise hurricane loss prevention models every four years. Current law requires that an agent notify the insured that if they choose to leave the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and later return, they will pay the full-risk rate, not the NFIP-subsidized rate. Additionally, the agent must obtain a signed disclosure from the insured acknowledging such; current law requires the agent provide written notice to be signed by the applicant upon receiving the application to obtain private flood coverage. The new language allows the agent more flexibility by requiring the agent provide the signed notice at any point before the agent actually places flood coverage with a private insurer. However, the agent may avoid obtaining the acknowledgment if the NFIP allows insureds, at some point in the future, to return to the program at any time and still obtain the subsidized rate.

 

 The bill extends the sunset for insurers not having to get private flood rates approved from October 1, 2019 to October 1, 2025. The bill also extends from 2017 to 2019 an exemption from the diligent effort search requirement for surplus lines insurers. Also, if fewer than three admitted insurers are writing flood on July 1, 2019 when the diligent search exception expires, the agent may only obtain a number of declinations that meet the number of admitted insurers providing coverage. For example, if only one flood insurer is writing private coverage, only one declination will be required.

LEGISLATION THAT FAILED THIS SESSION:

III. Assignment of Benefits (HB 1421)

 

There were a number of variations of legislation and amendments to rectify the AOB abuse epidemic throughout Florida. Unfortunately, no good AOB measure was able to succeed. However, we were successful in fighting off measures by the trial bar that would have enhanced the already prevalent AOB abuse.

 

There were two main vehicles addressing AOB. HB 1421 by Representative Grant, and SB 1218 by Senator Farmer. The House bill was the preferred vehicle for insurers, whereas the Senate bill was a trial-bar friendly initiative. The House bill would have required disclosures be provided to the insureds before entering into an AOB. It also would have moved to a “loser pays” attorney fee system. The House legislation provided the insured with an opportunity to rescind the assignment within 7 days of entering into the contract with the vendor. Further, the bill increased consumer protections and required vendors to provide written estimates of the work to be completed and required the assignee to notify the insurer of the assignment within 3 days of it being executed.

 

The Senate bill was amended a number of times and ultimately was not heard in its final committee. Generally, the Senate measure neglected to change the current attorney fee law for vendors, essentially endorsing the notion that vendors under AOB assignments are eligible to receive unlimited attorney fees. The Senate bill was extremely unfriendly to insurers and did not contain any attorney fee language. It required insurers to eliminate the costs of attorney gees on cases in which they lose a claim case in litigation from being part of the base rate and would have, essentially, ended the ability to utilize a managed repair program or ability to invoke the right to repair on a particular claim.   ( Welcome to Higher Home Insurance premiums)

IV. Workers Compensation

 

HB 7085 addresses the recent decisions declaring some components of Florida’s Workers Compensation law unconstitutional. The bill would permit direct payments of attorneys by or on behalf of claimants and increases the total combined temporary wage replacement benefits (TTD/TPD) from 104 weeks to 260 weeks. It also allows a Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) to award an hourly fee that departs from the statutory percentage based attorney fee limitation of $1500 under certain situations. Among several other components, HB 7085 also permits insurers to uniformly reduce premiums by no more than 5% if they file an informational-only notice within 30 days. Insurance industry representatives believe that the ability of a judge to award additional attorneys’ fees above the standard fee of $1,500 makes this bill less than ideal, and likely means that litigation will continue to expand causing rates to increase.

 

SB 1582 requires insurance carriers to authorize or decline requests for 

authorization from health care providers within a three-day period and provides that a request is deemed to be authorized if the carrier fails to respond. Like the House bill, the Senate bill increases the temporary partial disability benefits from 104 weeks to 260 weeks, in compliance with the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg. SB 1582 eliminates the statutory fee schedule of $1,500 for setting claimant attorney’s fees but allows the judge to consider certain factors and permit deviation from the attorney fee schedule. 

 

 

The two bills remained different between chambers through the end of session. The House sought to curb attorney’s fees and was more industry friendly than the Senate bill, which was seen as friendlier to the trial bar.

 

Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Business & Commercial & Life & Financial products as well.

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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