John Rollins doesn’t understand public service; at least that’s what he implied at the last Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (CPIC) Board workshop – the same workshop that was supposed to address the rationale behind firing the entire staff of Citizens’ Office of Corporate Integrity.
As reported by the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald, Citizens has plenty to fix. That’s why the consumer advocacy group I founded, Policyholders of Florida, and the nonpartisan government watchdog group, Integrity Florida, called for Governor Rick Scott to fully investigate the allegations of fraud, sexual harassment, and other bad behavior within Citizens and why the whistleblowers that uncovered it were dismissed. I was pleased he agreed and assigned his chief inspector general – and we await the results of that investigation.
At yesterday’s workshop, however, Mr. Rollins didn’t focus his indignation at the alleged improprieties committed by the company he helps oversee – instead, he saved his vitriol for me. In case you don’t know my background, in 2008 I was appointed as the Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate under former CFO Alex Sink. During my time as ICA, I had the opportunity to crisscross the state and hear from Floridians from every walk of life. I found a broken system that all too often failed to address the basic needs of our citizens. My experience with the people we were able to assist — and those we couldn’t — inspired me to continue my public advocacy even after my tenure in public office was over.
Today, I am an attorney representing policyholders wronged by insurance companies; a private position entirely consistent with my more public efforts to improve the property insurance market in Florida. I am unable to divorce my passion for good public insurance policy. It’s simply who I am.
Yet Mr. Rollins thinks I’m the problem.
I wasn’t the only one to get lashed out at during the meeting; some of the more choice words were saved for the reporters and editors that have been exposing Citizens’ malfeasance.
Mr. Rollins chose to call us all “bad actors.”
As an actuary, it seems like Rollins is unable to divest himself from the numbers, and to some extent, that’s okay. It’s part of his role. However, when he forgets policyholders and the real world consequences of these proposed policy changes and would rather ignore the gross mismanagement at Citizens than address the problem, someone has to pick up the slack: the media, insurance attorneys, public adjusters, and consumer advocates.
If insurance companies paid claims quickly and fairly, I would be out of a job – and my role as an advocate would be moot. As odd as it may seem to Mr. Rollins, a fairer insurance marketplace is exactly my goal— a goal that is not in my own financial interest, but a goal entirely consistent with my role as a consumer advocate.
Policyholders of Florida works every day to give policyholders a voice – to beat back rate hikes, to stop surplus lines companies from poaching policies without consent, and defeat anti-consumer legislation written by insurance industry lobbyists. While we may not have said a word in yesterday’s meeting, we were present in the fear and animosity in the voices of our detractors.
Perhaps if Mr. Rollins focused more time mending the mangled corporate culture at Citizens and less time lashing out at well-meaning consumer advocates, we would be closer to finding a solution to our state’s real insurance woes.