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An unlicensed contractor operating in the Florida Panhandle has been arrested by the Florida Disaster Fraud Action Strike Force (DFAST) for allegedly conducting roofing repairs following Hurricane Michael, according to a statement from Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis.

Ashley Porterfield, owner of Porterfield Building, was arrested Nov. 20 on charges of unlicensed contracting, a third-degree felony during a state of emergency. DFAST reportedly observed employees of Porterfield Building repairing a damaged roof while deployed to the Panhandle following Hurricane Michael.

Investigators made contact to verify the company had the proper licensure and workers’ compensation insurance coverage required by Florida law. It was discovered that Porterfield was not licensed to conduct business in the state.

“The Panhandle is recovering after Hurricane Michael, but unlicensed contractors could deal another blow to Florida families,” Patronis said. “Unlicensed activity puts Floridians in danger and takes business away from reputable contractors that follow the law. Before allowing anyone to make repairs, verify they have the required licenses and insurance. While hurricane season ends tomorrow, we will keep working to protect residents and business owners as they rebuild.”

Porterfield was and booked into the Bay County Jail and if convicted, could face up to 5 years in prison

Please enjoy the full article below;

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/12/06/511147.htm

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A new study released by the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) finds that Florida’s assignment of benefits (AOB) crisis has cost consumers billions of dollars in unnecessary litigation and inflated claim costs as the abuse continues to spread statewide.

“In Florida, abuse of AOBs has fueled an insurance crisis,” the report says of the misuse of the policyholder protection known as AOB. “The state’s legal environment has encouraged vendors and their attorneys to solicit unwarranted AOBs from tens of thousands of Floridians, conduct unnecessary or unnecessarily expensive work, then file tens of thousands of lawsuits against insurance companies that deny or dispute the claims.”

The I.I.I. report says the AOB “mini-industry has cost consumers billions of dollars as they are forced to pay higher premiums to cover needless repairs and excessive legal fees.”

An AOB is a document signed by either an auto or homeowners policyholder which allows a third party, such as an auto repair shop or a roofer, to seek direct payment from an insurer on a policyholder’s behalf. In Florida, a policyholder is permitted to sign an AOB document without notifying their insurer or seeking the insurer’s consent. The abuse has stemmed from the third parties with a signed AOB working with plaintiff’s attorney to sue an insurer when the insurer disputes an inflated bill from the third party.

Please enjoy the full article below;

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/12/12/511654.htm

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In an effort to keep the Florida assignment of benefits (AOB) crisis from further worsening in the state, Florida’s insurance industry, regulators and consumer advocates are on high alert for AOB activity in the wake of Hurricane Michael and working to educate consumers on the pitfalls of signing over their policy rights.

“Consumers need all the information they can get to help navigate making repairs to their homes and vehicles, and we’re working hard to provide resources to help prevent Floridians from becoming victims of AOB scams,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which spearheads the Consumer Protection Coalition, formed in 2017 to tackle the state’s AOB epidemic.

pressuring some to sign an assignment of benefits contract. Check with your insurance agent, insurance company, or call my office before you sign anything,” Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis warned in an Oct. 15 press release from the Department of Financial Services. “Storms bring out the best in people, but unfortunately, they bring out the worst in some. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Florida’s AOB problem has stemmed from unlicensed water remediation and roofing contractors who have homeowners sign over their insurance policy rights in exchange for needed repairs to their homes, and then file inflated or fake claims with the insurer. When those claims are disputed or denied, these contractors file a lawsuit that insurers are often left footing the bill for.

Carriers across the state have seen an increase in litigation because of inflated claims, which is leading to increased costs for policyholders. 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.

State officials have warned that the AOB issue could become even worse in the aftermath of a large-scale disaster, such as Hurricane Michael, due to a large number of claims triggering a contractor shortage, and people who are anxious to get repairs started on their homes assigning their insurance policy benefits to contractors.

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said before Michael hit that scenario was one of his biggest concerns, and noted the quick handling of claims would help ensure people are not taken advantage of

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https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/10/18/504876.htm

Please call Lee from Acentria Insurance at 954-270-7966 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial policies and Life, health and all types of group policies as well for individuals or businesses large and small.

Florida’s insurance regulator has issued an emergency order that ensures “additional protections” to Florida policyholders – including freezing any rate hikes for 90 days – to support recovery efforts in areas impacted by Hurricane Michael.

The order by Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier suspending and activating certain insurance rules was issued Oct. 15 in response to an executive order by Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

The order requires that insurers:

  1. Provide an additional 90 days to policyholders to supply required information to their insurance company. Many Floridians were displaced during this dangerous storm, and providing additional time to submit information to insurance companies gives them needed flexibility.
  2. Rescind for 90 days all non-renewals or cancellations issued to policyholders in the days leading up to Hurricane Michael. This gives policyholders 90 days to either renew their insurance policy, or find a new policy; and
  3. Freeze any and all efforts to increase rates on policyholders for 90 days.

“Governor Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis have made it clear that the expectation for Florida’s insurance companies is to expeditiously respond to policyholders’ needs and to treat families fairly. The quick response of insurance companies is critical to the recovery of Florida families following Hurricane Michael,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.

Altmaier said the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation is working to “ensure every possible step that can be taken to assist those impacted by Hurricane Michael will be executed as soon as possible.”

Please enjoy the full article below;

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/10/16/504583.htm

 

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Images compiled by Insurance Journal show the devastation to the Florida Panhandle caused by Hurricane Michael, which hit the region Oct. 10 as a Category 4 storm. Loss estimates range from $3 to $9 billion, according to catastrophe modelers, and some reports say the economic impact could be more than $25 billion.

Please watch this video and help all you can!

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/10/12/504423.htm

 

Please call Lee from Acentria Insurance at 954-270-7966 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial Insurance as well as Life , Health and all group benefits large & small

Insurers, reinsurers and ILS investors could face significant losses from Hurricane Michael, a major Category 4 storm that began its assault on the Florida Panhandle Wednesday, according to a briefing from A.M. Best.

Best said although Florida’s insurance market-share leaders possess strong levels of risk-adjusted capitalization that should provide a buffer against Hurricane Michael losses, there will still be an impact for insurers writing in the state, according to a new A.M. Best briefing.

Furthermore, while nearly all A.M. Best-rated Florida property companies have substantial property catastrophe premium, some have strategically limited their exposures in the panhandle, and therefore are not significantly exposed to this hurricane.

“However, the question of how the state’s relatively new, Florida-specific insurers might withstand the impact of substantial insurable losses caused by Hurricane Michael remains,” Best noted. “In addition, depending on the storm’s intensity after making landfall, the potential for insurable losses could put some pressure on reinsurers. The actual impact of the hurricane will depend on a number of yet undetermined factors, but A.M. Best believes that most of the affected rated carriers have sufficient capital and appropriate reinsurance programs to withstand this event effectively.”

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Please call Lee from Acentria Insurance at 954-270-7966 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial Insurance as well as Life , Health and all group benefits large & small.

Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 storm hitting Florida Wednesday with wind speeds of more than 150 miles per hour, is not just a major storm for the State of Florida, it is the strongest storm to hit the Florida Panhandle since hurricane records began, according to AIR Worldwide.

In an update released Wednesday from the catastrophe modeling firm, AIR said while there have been several other storms in recent history that have intensified more rapidly—Wilma increased from a 70 mph tropical storm to a 170 mph Category 5 in one day—what is unique about Michael is where it occurred: just prior to landfall, in an area that has never experienced a storm of this intensity.

“Not only is Michael potentially historic for where it will make landfall, it is also unique in terms of when,” AIR said. “If preliminary reports about Michael’s landfall near Mexico Beach, Fla., are correct, Michael will be recorded as the most intense hurricane on record to have struck land in the North Atlantic basin (which includes the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean) in the month of October.”

AIR noted that to date, the strongest hurricanes impacting the Florida Panhandle were all Category 3 storms. Among them, the 1917 unnamed storm #4, hurricanes Opal 1995, Ivan 2004 (an Alabama landfall that impacted Florida), and Dennis 2005. All four storms made landfall west of where Hurricane Michael struck.

The Florida Panhandle went nearly 80 years before experiencing another major hurricane. Opal in 1995 made landfall east of Pensacola with 115 mph winds. As with Hurricane Michael, Opal made use of the extremely warm water of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as favorable upper-level conditions, and rapidly intensified to a Category 4 hurricane before weakening and making landfall as a Category 3, AIR said.

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https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/10/10/504018.htm

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