Insurance agents are some of the nicest people I have ever met. They are often trained in salesmanship and influence. Many participate in community activities for professional networking reasons. To effectively sell insurance, you better be a swell person and know a lot of people.
As I noted in State Farm Agents are Fighting State Farm for Economic Survival, there are many good reasons why all insurance agents in Florida should be concerned about what our insurance regulations and laws will be. State Farm encourages its insurance agents to lobby political leaders and participate at insurance related forums so that State Farm’s political agenda is promoted. When I was on the Citizens Property Insurance Review Task Force, I noted a peculiar aspect of lobbying and participation by State Farm agents –they never said they worked for State Farm. State Farm’s lobbyists and governmental affairs types introduced themselves as being affiliated with State Farm, but not as its agents. They always introduced themselves as an "insurance agent."
So, at the hearing of the Florida Senate and Banking Committee meeting on Tuesday, I noted the testimony of insurance agent, Craig Duncan:
After hearing the testimony, I leaned over to a colleague and said, "my impression is that this guy just called 12 out of his 13 customers who filed sinkhole claims frauds." Remembering how State Farm agents failed to note their full affiliation when providing public testimony, I was curious about Craig Duncan’s background and why he took time to go to Tallahassee.
Craig Duncan is a State Farm Agent. On his website, I noted that he was the Chair of the Committee of Florida Agents and State Government Relations Chair for the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. His Linkedin webpage noted that the Committee of Florida Agents is "A Florida CCE designed to promote legislative solutions to the property insurance problems in the state." His specialty was noted as "Public policy work with Florida Legislature."
So what is the Committee of Florida Agents?
The Committee of Florida Agents is a chartered Committee of Continuing Existence under the election laws of the State of Florida. Contributions to the Committee are not limited, but contributions from the Committee to any candidate are limited to $500 per election race. Contributions to political parties are not limited.
The committee leadership consists of a Board of Governors and a Board of Directors. Directors will be one or two agents per AFO. The Board of Governors currently consists of nine agents geographically scattered around the state.
The Board of Governors will be responsible for screening candidates and voting on whom to support. The Board of Directors will be responsible for recruiting new members, providing input on local races to the Board of Governors and being the liaison between the agents in their AFO and the Board of Governors.
The initial Board of Governors was formed among politically active agents around the state that wanted to bring some continuity to the process of fundraising and political influence in the state. They will serve a 3 year term, and then the posts will begin to change over one to three year terms in order to maintain continuity.
The initial Board of Directors was hand selected by the Board of Governors. Criteria for a Director involved the level of political involvement along with the general respect of fellow agents in their AFO.
I know that his time was limited, but a little better introduction by Duncan may have shed a little light on why he was calling his customers with sinkhole claims crooks in the same manner Senator Joe McCarthy long ago called his fellow Americans communists. Propaganda is often supported with false name calling. My experience is that insurance lobbyists and their brethren falsely and needlessly argue for changes in law with false accusations of widespread fraud. This type of debate is wrong and should not be tolerated.