Rick Scott GOP


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In his June 2 veto letter addressed to Secretary of State Kenneth W. Detzner, Scott expressed his objections to the legislation, saying the bill “undermines progress in growing the number of property insurance options and reducing assessment risks for Florida Families.”

According to the Florida House of Representatives Final Bill Analysis, as of July 1, 2015, a policyholder may elect not to be solicited for takeout more than once in a six-month period.

Scott wrote that this provision was of primary concern to him.

“This provision is inherently unfair to Citizens’ policyholders in that it limits policyholders’ private market options, which means they miss an opportunity to move to a better property insurance alternative,” he wrote.

The Citizens depopulation effort has proven to be successful, yet controversial, in lowering Citizens’ policy count and ensuring the insurer’s ability to pay claims for policyholders that cannot find insurance in the private market. Just this past March, the company announced that it is the smallest it has been since its creation in 2002, with a policy count of less than 600,000 as of March 13. That number represents a huge drop from its highest policyholder count of 1.5 million, or about 26 percent of the Florida residential market, in November 2012.

The insurer’s approved take-outs as of May 15 of this year totaled 632,286 and the total number of policies removed was 110,529.

”The reality is that significant improvements in profitability and the increasing financial strength of companies has been a major factor in our ability to return to our role as the state’s insurer of last resort,” Citizens President and CEO Barry Gilway told the Citizens Board of Governors back in March.

 

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2015/06/04/370549.htm

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Living in a (semi)-tropical paradise has a price – and apparently, not even going nine years without a major hurricane strike will change that.

While Florida’s property insurance market has stabilized somewhat since eight storms battered the state in 2004 and 2005, as storms such as Hurricane Wilma caused billions in damages, the state still has some of the nation’s highest homeowners insurance rates. A recent national report showed that Florida’s average homeowner premium of more than $2,000 a year is twice the national average.

But state officials say good news is on the horizon.

And Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty insists that lower rates are coming because one of the main expenses for insurers – reinsurance – has been dropping. Reinsurance is the millions an insurer spends with an out-of-state or foreign company to provide the company financial backing in case of major claims.

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2015/06/01/370007.htm

 

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Florida Governor Rick Scott is looking for a replacement for the state’s top insurance regulator and has already contacted a potential candidate from Louisiana.

Scott’s office has confirmed that the governor contacted Ron Henderson, Louisiana deputy insurance commissioner for consumer advocacy, as a possible replacement for Florida’s current insurance commissioner, Kevin McCarty, who has headed the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) since 2003.

McCarty has reportedly been targeted for replacement as part a shake-up of top officials by Scott as he embarks on his second term.

In a letter to Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Scott called for new heads of the OIR, the Office of Financial Regulation and the Department of Revenue.

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2015/01/27/355570.htm

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A national consumer group is urging Florida to keep its current insurance regulator, a man the group says is one of the best regulators in the country but who is rumored to be under pressure to resign by the Scott Administration.

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) has reached out to the Florida Financial Services Commission in support of Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, following recent reports that second-term Governor Rick Scott is opposing McCarty’s reappointment.

Hunter hopes that they will act to keep McCarty, he wrote in an email to Insurance Journal. “McCarty is very strong given his great track record,” wrote Hunter.

Hunter said it is not typical for a member of the CFA to reach out in support of an official because usually a state governor would make the final decision and no vote is needed

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2015/01/23/355006.htm

Florida’s insurance regulator’s tenure could be coming to an end after more than a decade as the newly re-elected governor looks to shake up his administration by replacing the heads of state agencies.

Rumors have been circulating that Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty may not survive the transition into Governor Rick Scott’s second term. And Scott’s office isn’t exactly stopping them.

The News Service of Florida reported that in a letter to CFO Atwater on Tuesday, Scott wrote that he hoped the Cabinet could “begin a search for new leadership” at the Office of Insurance Regulation, the Office of Financial Regulation and the Department of Revenue.

Scott’s spokesperson Jackie Schutz said it is important for a governor to have new leaders and new ideas heading into a second term. While not addressing McCarty specifically, Schutz laid out the rationale for finding a replacement for McCarty.

“Executive office positions are not lifetime appointments and for the same reason there are term limits in elected office, it is important to search for the best newest ideas whenever possible,” said Schutz.

“In regard to the Office of Insurance Regulation, we have no announcements at this time,” said Schutz, in what some see as a signal that a change is coming.

Industry representatives are reticent to discuss McCarty, perhaps not wanting to risk antagonizing either McCarty or the next commissioner.

When asked, industry representatives said it is not a matter of one choice or one decision that McCarty has made that got him to this point. Most just say McCarty’s fate is the product of years of unpopular decisions.

Several industry representatives said, “It’s time.”

McCarty is not the only state official whose job is up for grabs.

 

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2015/01/20/354497.htm

The race between Scott and Crist has been closely watched by the insurance industry, which has worked under the radar to try and influence the race in Scott’s favor.

With polls showing Scott and Crist virtually even, industry representatives know that the slightest incident could swing the race one way or another. That is why representatives looked on with a mixture of horror and disbelief at the beginning of the debate and the so-called “fangate” affair, which some fear could define the race.

Fla. Gov. Rick Scott

In what has become fodder for late night comedians and TV political pundits, Scott initially refused to participate in the debate because Crist had a small electric fan underneath his podium.

FAIA, through its Trusted Choice program, was a co-sponsor of the debate.

“Most people thought it was a joke and it was like they were waiting for the punch line,” said Grady. “But then there was no punch line.”

Professional Insurance Agents of Florida CEO Corey Mathews said that unfortunately the fan incident was a “big deal,” which on the surface exposed the different temperaments of both candidates.

“You have two very different candidates with two very different perspectives,” said Mathews. “Crist is a natural campaigner and a populist, while Scott is more focused on jobs and making a difference.”

Many in the insurance industry feel they have a lot at stake in this election and fear a victory for Crist with whom they have had their differences in the past.

Now the fear is that the election could some down to a bizarre fight over a fan.

“It was really hard to watch,” said another industry onlooker. “Clearly it rattled Scott and it seemed he could never clean it up.”

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Please enjoy the full article for a good laugh at Florida Politics!!!

Democrat Charlie Crist said he successfully reduced rising property insurance rates as governor and will do so again if elected, vowing to repeal a law enacted under Republican Gov. Rick Scott that he said provides weaker coverage at a higher price.

It’s a familiar theme for Crist, who campaigned in 2006 on a pledge to lower insurance rates that were skyrocketing after eight hurricanes battered Florida in two years. One of his first acts as governor was to call a special session to deal with rising rates. Lawmakers expanded the amount of state-sponsored reinsurance, which brought down costs for private carriers, and froze rates by the state-created Citizen’s Property Insurance Corp., which took on more policies as national companies backed away from Florida.

Minutes after Crist’s announcement, the Office of Insurance Regulation announced that it approved the removal of 428,000 policies from Citizens to private companies. In all, nearly 900,000 policies have been approved for removal as the state tries to reduce the number of Citizens policies. Customers can choose to remain with Citizens.

Scott signed a bill his first year in office designed to attract more insurance companies to Florida. Consumer advocates and legislative critics said it would raise rates by up to 15 percent while taking away benefits from customers. Crist vetoed a similar bill the year before.

Scott’s campaign criticized Crist’s insurance policies for putting more of a burden on state government.

“Florida taxpayers were left on the hook for billions and homeowners were left with fewer options to protect their property,” said Scott spokesman Matt Moon in an email to reporters. “Under Governor Scott, Florida has done the exact opposite, reforming and shrinking Citizens Insurance while giving consumers more choice and competition to protect their home.”

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2014/09/08/339865.htm

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Citizens Property Insurance Corp. officials in a public hearing before the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) painted a picture of an insurer that has downsized significantly while financially improving over the last several years.

Citizens President Barry Gilway said that the insurer in the past two years has gone from an entity “out of control” when it came to growth to one that is returning to being the insurer of last resort.

“I think we are at a better place than we have been in a decade,” said Gilway.

Regulators have 45 days in which to make a decision on the rate filing.

Gilway said that several factors are driving the proposed rate changes including the lack of any hurricane losses over the past eight years and five years of rate increases under the glide-path regulation that caps annual proposed rate increases at 10 percent.

According to Citizens documents, those factors have allowed the insurer to reach rate adequacy throughout the state with the exception of a few coastal counties where the insurer provides wind-only coverage.

As a result the insurer is requesting an average 5.8 percent decrease for homeowners multi-peril policies and a 3.8 percent average increase in homeowners wind-only policies.

Citizens Chief Risk Officer John Rollins said that barring a major storm, these trends should continue.

“There is so much uncertainty, so many unknowns,” said Gilway.

Gilway also said the insurer has achieved a level of stability due to the insurer’s ability to depopulate and secure reinsurance and catastrophic bonds at favorable rates.

Two years ago, Citizens had more than 1.5 million policies in force, which according to A.M. Best made it the ninth largest insurer in the country. At that point, the insurer’s personal lines and coastal accounts represented 24 percent of the Florida market; now that number has dropped to 16 percent.

Looking forward, Citizens expects that its policy count could equal less than 900,000 by year’s end depending on the success of planned take-outs by private insurers in November and December.

As a result of Citizens downsizing, its exposure had dropped more than 40 percent from a high of $500 billion to $300 billion, which means that the potential assessment risk on all Floridian citizens has declined from $11.6 billion in 2011 to $2.3 billion.

“I see nothing but coming but good news coming when it comes to taking the assessment burden off the back of Florida citizens,” said Gilway.

Gilway attributed that decrease to a number of factors including Citizens depopulation programs that have seen private insurers take out hundreds of thousands of policies out of the insurer.

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2014/09/02/339189.htm

Florida’s passage of a homeowners’ claims bill of rights left few satisfied after lawmakers largely codified current law while avoiding controversial issues such as the practice of policyholders assigning their claims payments to contractors.

The bill of rights was a priority of the state’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and was initially drafted by the state’s insurance consumer advocate’s office.

Atwater said the bill is needed given that about 350,000 homeowners file claims each year and his office receives 125,000 calls from policyholders either filing complaints or searching for answers about their claims.

“This much-needed bill of rights will notify Florida homeowners of their rights and responsibilities when filing an insurance claim and give them confidence that they will be treated fairly during a stressful situation involving their home,” stated Atwater.

The 12-point bill of rights is meant to inform homeowners of timelines such as one requiring insurance companies to acknowledge a claim within 14 days of being filed. Additionally, insurers must within 30 days of receiving a proof-of-loss statement, confirm a claim is covered, partially covered or denied. Within 90 days, insurers must either pay the claim in full or in part or deny the claim.

The bill of rights also advises policyholders what they need to do in case they have property damage, including that they should contact their insurer before hiring a contractor.

While Atwater and his allies have been declaring victory, some who participated in crafting the bill walked away disappointed in an outcome that created no new legal rights for homeowners or insurers.

What seemed at first a rather non-controversial piece of legislation turned into a heated debate over a so-called “assignment of benefits” provision.

Under this provision, homeowners can sign over their financial rights to be paid for a claim so that instead the payments are made directly to a contractor making repairs instead of to the homeowner.

The contractor also assumes the policyholder’s legal right to dispute a claim and file suit against an insurer. If the contractor prevails in court, in addition to the insurer having to pay the claim, it must also pay the contractor’s legal bills.

From insurers’ point of view, this has created a cottage industry where trial lawyers and contractors work to maximize the monies they can receive from insurers regardless of the real cost of the claim.

Personal Insurance Federation of Florida Executive Director Michael Carlson said that is a major reason his association supported doing away with the assignment of benefits.

“What we are seeing under assigned benefits is unscrupulous contractors who tell homeowners that in order to get repairs they have to sign a form signing away their rights,” said Carlson. “Then the vendor will inflate the claims costs then tell the insurer you owe us this much or we will sue you.”

Carlson said that in addition to increasing claims costs and unnecessary litigation, the assignment of benefits practice keeps consumers in the dark about their own claims. For example, he said, policyholders have had lawsuits filed on their behalf without their knowledge.

 

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2014/06/23/332627.htm

 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed legislation designed to encourage private insurers to offer flood insurance, but the industry is tamping down expectations that it will result in a viable market in the near future.

The legislation creates a statutory framework allowing private insurers to offer four different types of flood coverage ranging from standard coverage, which mirrors the current National Flood Insurance Program policies, to three other enhanced coverages.

The legislation also allows private insurers to file their own rates prior to October 1, 2019, after which they must be approved by regulators. The time period is so Florida insurers can develop state flood data that is currently not available under the NFIP.

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty says it will ultimately benefit consumers.

Biggert-Waters Debate

Lawmakers first pursued the flood insurance bill with a sense of urgency in response to the federal Biggert-Waters Insurance Reform act of 2012, which was designed to address a $24 billion funding shortfall in the National Flood Insurance Program caused largely by hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

Biggert-Waters required some flood premiums to rise, in some cases substantially, until they attained actuarial levels and for most subsidies to be phased out. It also called for new flood maps that also raised some premiums and expanded flood zone areas so that more people had to buy coverage.

Eliminating long-time premium subsidies on homes built before 1974 and keeping property owners from pass along those subsidies when they sold their homes meant that 280,000 Florida homeowners faced rate increases and other confronted difficulties selling their homes.

More than two million Florida residents are covered through the NFIP, and state’s policyholders pay $3.60 in premiums for every $1 in claims, factors some say favor the creation of a private market.

However, after there was a public uproar over the Biggert-Waters changes, Congress amended that reform law to limit rate increases, retain premium subsidies and allow subsidies to pass through to new owners when a house is sold. As a result he urgency over the need for a private market waned.

 

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http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2014/06/17/332214.htm

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