Yesterday, Judge Kevin Carroll of the Leon County Circuit Court, entered a Consent Order placing Sunshine State Insurance Company (“Sunshine State”) into receivership for liquidation, and stayed all current litigation against the company. Learning of this situation prompted me to call up some folks involved with a recent Sunshine State claim settlement I negotiated to ensure that settlement checks had been cashed . . .you might want to do the same if in a similar situation.

Regardless of whether you were recently involved in any claim settlements with Sunshine State, what next for Sunshine State customers? The Palm Beach Post reports that “with more than 37,000 customers statewide and 1,700 customers in Palm Beach, Martin, Broward and Miami-Dade counties . . . . State officials are working ‘to ensure a smooth’ transition to continued coverage for customers” and that, pending court approval, individual Sunshine State policies may be moved to United Property and Casualty Insurance Company.

Are there larger lessons to be learned from Sunshine State’s going belly up? Yes. One of the more glaring lessons, in my opinion, is consumers should spend some time on the front end researching prospective insurance companies in an effort to avoid headaches on the back end. For example, when you are considering purchasing insurance, perhaps you or your agent should take a look at how your carrier options rate with A.M. Best, which advertises, in part:

A.M. Best Company is a global credit rating agency with a unique focus on the insurance industry. Insurance professionals, brokers, regulators and consumers refer to Best’s Credit Ratings as an opinion of the financial strength and creditworthiness of risk-bearing entities and investment vehicles.

You are welcome, A.M. Best, for the free advertising.

For more suggestions on the insurance company selection process, check out my August 17, 2012, blog – Hum, Which Insurance Company Should I Pick?

I think it fitting to end this blog in the same way I ended my August 17, 2012, blog – “choose wisely, my friends.”