Fla. Consumer Services: Poe Officials Vow to Reduce Complaints

April 25, 2006

Florida’s Consumer Services representatives held a meeting April 21 with officials of the Tampa, Fla.-based Poe Insurance Group to discuss how to reduce the number of consumer complaints about the firm and its subsidiaries, Atlantic Preferred Insurance Company, Southern Family Insurance Company and Florida Preferred Insurance Company.

“We met in our continuing meetings with Poe, it was a productive meeting and company officials have agreed to work out the claims that they still have and about which we have received calls,” Bob Lotane, Department of Financial Services press secretary told Insurance Journal.

“One thing that we have seen that is of concern is that the actual number of open claims had increased to 286 from 254 when we last met on April 14,” Lotane said.

During a recent two-week period, DFS received 169 consumer complaints about Poe. Poe was once the third-largest homeowner insurer in the state.

“We are also encouraged because they are continuing to resolve open claims in less than 60 days,” explained Lotane. “We do not like to see the total number go up, so we are going to continue to aggressively monitor their performance, work with them to make sure claims are resolved and that they get these people taken care of.”
Lotane said four people had called in to complain that they still have unrepaired hurricane damage and yet they are being non-renewed.

“It’s quite confusing to us,” Lotane said. “As part of the wide-ranging bill that passed the Florida Legislature last year, you can not nonrenew people with hurricane damage until 90 days after it is fixed.”

Gallagher concerned

Lotane said Tom Gallagher, Florida’s CFO, is very concerned.
“As it stands now, we are looking into that and trying to find out, legally and otherwise, what we can do to make people whole.”
Gallagher issued a press statement saying:

“This is an essential protection for homeowners and it was put in place based on feedback we received from Floridians following the 2004 storm season,” Gallagher said. “Floridians whose homes are still damaged should not be forced to shop for coverage for a home that is uninsurable.

“I’m very concerned that homeowners are being put in this position and am working towards a solution that will ensure policyholders are properly protected this hurricane season, Gallagher concluded.”

Regularly scheduled meeting

The April 21 meeting with Poe was already scheduled with the Division of Consumer Services.

“When this happens we set up regular meetings,” Lotane said. “We generally set up regular meetings and develop an action plan to take care of the problem.

“There were 169 complaints during a recent two-week period and that is certainly something that raises an eyebrow with us,” Lotane explained. “That put a little more input into Friday’s meeting, we wanted to find out why this level of complaints were coming in.”

He said the meetings are an ongoing process that we have been going through with Poe to make sure people are being treated correctly.

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