One investigative journalist, Brianna Sacks, of the Washington Post, has uncovered and exposed more corruption by Florida insurance companies than all the state paid for insurance investigators and regulators whose job it is to protect Floridians from such conduct. The article, Insurers Slashed Hurricane Ian Payouts Far Below Damage Estimates, Documents and Insiders Reveal, may cause many to say, “look at all the claims corruption by Florida insurance companies. This is outrageous!” The sad question raised by the article is:

Why are Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis and Republican politicians behind and supporting every law desired and written by these corrupt insurance companies ripping off Floridians?    

The article specifically noted that Florida Republican politicians are doing nothing after getting the shocking information about insurance companies committing fraud against their own customers:

Asking lawmakers to take action

Over the past year, Florida Republicans called two special legislative sessions focused on the state’s insurance industry and passed more laws that further protect and insulate property insurance carriers, largely at the expense of homeowners. Two major industry wins include funneling $1 billion in taxpayer money into a reinsurance fund and stopping carriers from having to pay policyholders’ attorneys’ fees when they sue.

At the December session, Lee, Mandell, Vinson and other adjusters joined residents in speaking out against the legislation. Their testimony was covered by Insurance Journal.

After Mandell accused insurance carriers of fraudulent behavior that is ‘more widespread than any of us could have imagined,’ state Rep. Bob Rommel (R), the chair of the Commerce Committee, asked the group of adjusters to come to his office later with that information ‘to make sure the attorney general and [Office of Insurance Regulation] takes care of that.’     

They did. And according to four people present, Rommel asked to see evidence and told the group, ‘If this is really happening, this needs to be taken care of,’ Lee recalled. Vinson had brought a flash drive with dozens of files to show, but the representative said it was not safe for a government computer.

The next day, Dec. 14, Mandell emailed Rommel’s office with the evidence the lawmaker requested, including a file of four documents showing how his estimate of $40,468.54 of damage was revised to show $2,658. ‘You will note that they left my name on this bogus estimate,’ the adjuster wrote in the email, obtained by The Washington Post.

In an email, Rommel told The Post that the adjusters came to his office with ‘no evidence. Told them the door was open if they could produce the evidence.’ After multiple emails from The Post, Rommel’s office said that it had forwarded the adjuster’s email to the state’s chief financial officer, Jimmy Patronis, and that Patronis’s office will contact Mandell.

‘We have asked the CFO’s office to keep us in the loop,’ a spokesperson for Rommel said. The CFO’s office said in a statement that it has received the information from Rommel, met with the property owners from the report and that ‘an investigation is currently open and ongoing.’

Of course, nothing was done.  

This is not a new problem that the Washington Post exposed. I have noted many instances of these corrupt claims practices, such as in Why Are Property Insurance Claims Being Underpaid and Independent Catastrophe Adjusters Leaving the Field?, and Do Independent Property Claims Adjusters Need More Legal Protection From Unethical Managers. So, why isn’t something being done to stop it?

Florida’s insurance industry apparently controls Florida’s Republican leadership. Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, dictates what the Republican leadership is to do. He has and is currently supporting insurance companies and new laws that take away protections for ordinary folks who are abused by the wrongful claims practices of their insurance company.  

To me, this is a sad state of affairs. For readers not familiar with my politics, I am a registered Republican and was a member of the Republican Governor’s Association. Holding wrongdoers accountable for their unlawful actions and abuse is a core conservative value that seems to be forgotten when it comes to the extreme amounts of lobbying money which can be raised by the insurance industry. Florida Republican leadership is lost and misguided on these issues involving insurance company misconduct. Nothing is being done to stop the abuse because Florida’s Republican leaders are on the wrong side. They are supporting laws making it easier and more profitable for insurance companies to do this.  

I will be at the Win The Storm conference this week. One of the panels I will be on features Republican Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. I am certain that the topic of prosecuting insurance company claims managers and companies for this type of conduct will be raised. Hope to see you there. We can learn what her thoughts are about this abuse and what she intends to do about it.

Thought For The Day  

Journalism is the protection between people and any sort of totalitarian rule. That’s why my hero, admittedly a flawed one, is a journalist.

—Andrew Vachss