Public Ajustors


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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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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

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https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/06/07/491458.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 products large & small.

Guess what? He was a Public adjustor?? No way?? Kidding!!!

A Florida man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in an arson insurance fraud scheme that spanned multiple Florida counties and was ordered to pay $1.9 million towards restitution to the more than 14 carriers affected, according to a statement from the Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s office.

Jorge Fausto Espinosa Sr., owner of the public adjuster company Nationwide Adjusters LLC, pled guilty last month to racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, organized scheme to defraud, and more than 28 counts of arson as well as multiple counts of insurance fraud and grand theft. He was sentenced by Judge Mark Blumstein t

 

o 20 years in state prison in addition to paying $1.9 million towards restitution.

Fausto Espinosa Sr. was one of many defendants originally charged in a series of collaborative investigations by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis’ Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations, and the Miami-Dade Police Department called Operation Flames and Flood I and Operation Flames and Flood II.

The investigations found that Espinosa intentionally set multiple homes on fire as well as caused water damage to other homes with the sole purpose of filing false and fraudulent insurance claims. The homeowners were recruited by Espinosa as part of his “Arson for Hire Scheme” involving homes in Miami-Dade, Lee and Collier County.

More than 14 insurance carriers, including Citizens, Tower Hill and United Property and Casualty, were impacted by the 50-plus false claims that cost insurers and policyholders more than $14 million in losses.

Pleas enjoy the full article below

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/06/05/491223.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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The Florida Department of Financial Services’ Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team (DFSAT) have been deployed across the state to protect Floridians from post-storm fraud that could occur in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Alberto, according to a statement from Florida CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis.

With a state of emergency now declared in all 67 counties, Patronis activated the team to be on alert for fraud in the event of major flooding and damage.

“Unfortunately, storms can bring out the worst in people,” said Patronis. “To get ahead of any attempt to take advantage of those who may need repairs done to their property, we’re activating now so we can quickly ward off fraud. With the 2018 Hurricane Season less than a week away, it’s important consumers are alert and aware of the potential for post-storm scams.”

Patronis issued the following indicators of post-storm fraud that policyholders should be aware of:

  • A contractor or restoration professional who offered to waive or discount an insurance deductible.
  • A contractor or restoration professional that has received payment and has failed to provide any repairs to a home.
  • A contractor or restoration professional who offered to provide repairs at a cash-only discounted rate and has failed to provide repairs to a home.
  • A contractor or restoration professional who pressured a policyholder to sign an assignment of benefit (AOB) and has failed to provide any repairs to the home or stopped responding to contact attempts.

Anyone who experiences or witnesses these types of activity are encouraged to reach out to Patronis’ Fraud Tip Hotline by calling 1-800-378-0445. Callers can choose to remain anonymous

We are the most Fraudulent state in the country! Please enjoy the full article below;

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/05/30/490562.htm

Please call Lee from Acentria Insurance at 9540270-7966 for Free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial & Life group & financial products as well.

Peoples Trust Insurance lost $42 million in 2016, was recently in financial “shambles,” and was overvalued by more than $50 million when current President and CEO George W. Schaeffer agreed to buy half of the company from the widow of his late partner. Those claims surfaced in a memo that Schaeffer reportedly sent to Eileen Gold, widow of company co-founder Mike Gold, before he sued her for the return of $4 million he says he overpaid her.

Schaeffer and Gold are now suing each other in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.

In his suit, Schaeffer is demanding that Eileen Gold release him from his May 2014 agreement to pay $30 million for the Golds’ half of the Deerfield Beach-based company. He says an analysis conducted following Mike Gold’s death in January 2014 “grossly misrepresented” the company’s value as $88 million, but that Schaeffer later discovered it had been poorly managed and was actually worth $34 million in June 2014.

As a result, Schaeffer’s suit says, the $21 million he has so far paid to Eileen Gold was $4 million more than he should have paid. The suit demands that Eileen Gold release Schaeffer from having to pay the remaining $9 million as agreed, and repay $4 million the widow received “unlawfully” and as “unjust enrichment.”

Eileen Gold filed in both suits a memo she said Schaeffer hand-delivered on Dec. 8 — a week before the two filed their respective suits.

The memo includes the words “Privileged and Confidential Inadmissible Settlement Communication” and is headed “To: Eileen Gold. From: George Schaeffer.” It accuses Mike Gold of “mismanaging the company very badly” and hiding it from his then-partner.

“Unfortunately, I also learned that Mike spent almost every day of the week at a casino and at a massage parlor. And it appears that he was using cash from the company to finance these activities,” the memo states.

“Upon reviewing the books and records of the company, we have found that Mike had apparently engaged in CRIMINAL activity with the company, including the borrowing of funds from the insurance company. This is a crime. There are many other examples. But this company that was in supposedly good shape was actually in shambles, and lost $42 million last year alone.”

The memo then contends that an independent forensic accounting firm reviewed the prior valuation and found it was actually worth $34 million in 2014. “So the most I would have ever had to pay you was $17 million,” it says. “And yet I have already paid you $21 million; am supposed to pay you $9 million more; and on top of that I am supposed to pay you a percentage of the company if I should ever sell.

Please enjoy the full article below

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/fl-bz-peoples-trust-valuation-lawsuit-20180420-story.html

Please call Lee @ Acentria Insurance at 954-270-7966 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial, & Life, Group  and financial products as well.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has released a top 10 list of most wanted insurance fraud criminals and called on local communities to help with finding the individuals.

According to a statement from the Florida Department of Financial Services, each of the following individuals is wanted for various insurance-fraud related crimes:

  • Anthony Fitzgerald Phillips, last known address Fullerton, Calf.: Grand Theft.
  • Huberto Del Sol Puerto, last known address Hialeah/Miami, Fla.: Organized fraud ($50,000 or More), false and fraudulent insurance claims, grand theft (3rd Degree), money laundering, false statement (Jurisdiction of Department of State).
  • Gabriel Sanchez, last known address Miami, Fla.: Racketeering.
  • William Brenes, last known address Hillsborough County: Fraudulently presenting a false statement ($100,000 or more).
  • Jose Alexis Orellana Ramos, last known address North Lauderdale, Fla.: Organized fraud ($50,000 or more), grand theft (1st Degree, $100,000 or more), workers’ compensation fraud (Over $100,000).
  • Joseph J. Beckford, last known address Carrollton, Ga.: False and fraudulent insurance claim.
  • Bernardo Romero-Ortiz, last known address Orlando, Fla.: Workers’ compensation fraud ($100,000 or more); organized fraud.
  • Roland Terencio Delgado, last known address Coral Gables, Fla.: Racketeering, grand theft (2 Counts).
  • Paul Emmanuel Pierre, last known address Orlando, Fla.: Racketeering, false and fraudulent insurance claim.
  • Javier Lopez Rivero, last known address Miami, Fla.: Racketeering, grand theft, false and fraudulent insurance claims.

Please enjoy the full article below

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/04/18/486707.htm

 

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