I usually don’t cut and paste press releases in their entirety and offer them to our blog readers.  However, I have to make an exception this time.  My good friend, Sha’Ron James, was recently appointed as Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate.  I worked with Sha’Ron in multiple capacities.  We worked together in private practice for a Tallahassee law firm before we both moved on to the Department of Financial Services.  I can not think of a better person to stand up for the interests of the insurance consumers of this state.  Sha’Ron is the real deal – smart, compassionate, and hard-working.  Being the Insurance Consumer Advocate is a hard job, but I know she is up for it.  I am excited for the future.  Congratulations Sha’Ron!  CFO Jeff Atwater is also to be commended for making such a wonderful appointment.  The press release announcing her appointment is set forth below.


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Hurricane season just ended in Florida without any significant storm landing on our shores. As noted in Slow hurricane season could spell relief for Citizens Property Insurance policyholders,11 the 9-year break from storms should have stabilized the property insurance market and led to reduced premiums for policyholders. Unfortunately, the reality is a bit different. The article is correct in pointing out that Citizens Property Insurance Company has been able to reduce its exposure by transitioning its policies into the private market. However, this effort by Citizens to shed policies is a result of recent and concerted efforts by the legislature and Citizens to address the number of policies in its portfolio. In fact, Citizens reached a peak of 1.5 million policyholders in August of 2012. Thus, I believe the Citizens’ declining policy count is more a result of recent legislation and efforts as opposed to the 9-year break from storms. It should also be noted that there is significant debate about whether Citizens should be transitioning its policies to “take out” companies with unproven financial and customer service track records. We can talk more about that debate in another blog.


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Just before the start of the 2014 Hurricane Season, People’s Trust Insurance Company, an unorthodox company, is now pulling insurance away from thousands. Last year, the company was awarded the 2013 Governor’s Innovators in Business Award for being a company that has set a standard for entrepreneurship and creativity. But this year, People’s has turned its back on many homeowners, leaving them scrambling for insurance.


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On March 26, 2014 the Florida Senate unanimously passed a bill (Senate Bill 542) to encourage a private flood insurance market. The bill is at a time where there are concerns over the National Flood Insurance Program ("NFIP") changes that will be increasing premiums for policyholders in flood prone areas. The bill has been discussed before in my previous post, Will Floridians Have An Option To Obtain Affordable Flood Insurance Coverage From Private Insurers?


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In May, Universal Property & Casualty was fined 1.26 million dollars after an extended market review found new and repeated statutory insurance violations. Although Universal initially challenged the fine, a consent order was signed last week and Universal says it will pay, and has reportedly agreed to change its business practices. Nearly 300 denied claims will be reevaluated, according to Insurance Journal.


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Robin Westcott, Florida’s Consumer Advocate, led another meeting of the Homeowners’ Policy & Claims Bill of Rights Working Group – this time in Clearwater, Florida. Westcott’s office will proffer a draft for a statutory Bill of Rights for Homeowners and provide a detailed report outlining the concerns and suggestions of the Group.


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The Florida Senate recognizes the bad acts of Florida’s Universal Property Insurance Corporation (UPIC). Just yesterday, the Senate passed an amendment to HB635 that added language prohibiting insurance companies from some types of “post-loss underwriting.” House approval is needed before the legislation can be sent to the Governor for his signature.

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