Fla. CFO Issues Statement on ‘Face-to-face’ Meetings With Insurers

March 10, 2005

After receiving consumer complaints during town hall meetings in Pensacola, Fla. about unpaid claims, Tom Gallagher, Florida’s CFO, told insurance company representatives he would like to have “face-to-face” meetings with their executive officers in an effort to clear up the problems.

This week Gallagher met with representatives and received commitments that they would attempt to resolve outstanding claims. Today Gallagher issued the following statement:

“Following our first town hall meeting in Pensacola last week, where I heard from many storm victims frustrated with their insurance company, I called for meetings with the executive officers of Universal Property and Casualty Insurance Company; Vanguard Fire and Casualty Insurance Company; Capital Preferred Insurance Company; First Protective Insurance Company; and Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.

“I had the opportunity to meet with company executives face-to-face this week. All of the insurer representatives committed that they will resolve their outstanding claims, will consistently and productively participate in scheduled mediations, and will be at all of the department’s town hall meetings to meet with their policyholders.

“I am encouraged by these commitments and plan to hold them accountable. In addition, the Office of Insurance Regulation has confirmed that these companies are financially sound, which is good news.

“Issues identified by the smaller insurance companies, including Capitol Preferred, First Protective and Vanguard, were the lack of adjusting resources and inadequate technology to handle the influx of calls and claims from multiple storms.

“One solution I would like to see implemented by the Office of Insurance Regulation is a best practices checklist so new companies writing business in Florida have the computer and phone systems in place to ensure policyholders can readily obtain information on their claims, especially after a catastrophe.

“I have also made some specific requests of the insurance companies I met with, including the claims handling practices of both Citizens Property Insurance Corporation and Universal Property and Casualty Insurance Company.

“Finally, I am proposing a rule for consideration before the Governor and Cabinet that would impose a 30-day time limit for insurance companies to resolve outstanding claims and, if not resolved, then they must provide a detailed, written report explaining why each claim is not closed.

“And I will continue to monitor the progress of Florida’s homeowners insurance companies to ensure that storm victims’ claims are handled fairly and expeditiously.”

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