Fla. CFO Halts Disposal of Consumer Complaint Records

July 9, 2007

A Florida agency has stopped disposing of records related to consumer disputes with insurance companies after lawyers and open records advocates decried the loss of a wealth of information that could be used to hold the industry accountable.

The Florida Department of Financial Services decided last year the state’s broad public records law did not apply to supplemental information consumers sent in with a required notice that they intend to sue their insurer. The agency, which gets about 10,000 notices a year, said it did not have the manpower to handle the unsolicited background material.

Department of Financial Services legal counsel Dennis Silverman said the initial filing is evidence enough to track abuses. But lawyers said the supplemental paperwork provides crucial insight into bad business practices and can prove consumer problems are not isolated.

“You’re destroying legal records the court needs to hold these companies accountable,” said Jamie Payne, a former Department of Insurance employee who tracks civil remedy notices for lawyers throughout Florida.

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink put a hold on the destruction of records, which began under the previous administration, said her spokeswoman Tara Klimek.


Information from: Tallahassee Democrat, http://www.tdo.com

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