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CONTACT: Edie Ousley, 850-521-1231 or 850-251-6261
CFO Jeff Atwater, Property Insurance and Expensive
Cost Drivers Exploiting Homeowners Take Center Stage
ORLANDO, FL. (January 27, 2014) – Statewide leaders are gathered in Orlando today for the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Insurance Summit with one common goal- building on Florida’s successes by tackling remaining insurance-related challenges. Leading financial regulators, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Florida’s Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, kicked off the day-and-a-half summit that also included a discussion of leading cost drivers that are exploiting homeowners and consumers.
“[The Florida Chamber’s Insurance Summit] is an important gathering. In fact, I would say that the importance cannot be understated,” said Michael Carlson, Executive Director of Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF). “The prominent thought leaders, prominent stakeholder groups, company executives and representatives, legislators, elected officials, academics all gather under the auspices of the [Florida] Chamber at this event to talk about the problems that we face in property insurance and other insurance markets and more importantly talk about solutions, smart solutions, to address these problems.”
Kicking off the day-and-a-half statewide summit, CFO Atwater applauded the Florida Chamber for bringing insurance industry leaders together to develop solutions that will make Florida more competitive.
“It matters that you’re having these conversations over the next couple of days to navigate ahead toward making sound public policy and advance Florida toward the attraction of capital and making Florida more competitive,” said Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. “The debate will be about how these ideas will create a better environment for consumers to have choice for the best possible deal.”
Insurance Commissioner McCarty highlighted Florida’s insurance successes – especially with Citizens Property Insurance – and how insurers and consumers alike are saving money.
More than 250 insurance professionals gathered in Orlando to focus on a leaner Citizens Property Insurance and how the role of Florida’s financial backstop, the Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, is evolving. Major cost drivers exploiting homeowners – exaggerated claims from unscrupulous contractors resulting in padded profits – also took center stage.
“Imagine this: You wake up to find your kitchen flooded from a broken pipe. You frantically call a water extractor who arrives and says, ‘Don’t worry. Just sign these forms and we’ll handle everything’,” Representative David Santiago, (R-Deltona), recently wrote. “The truth is, you’ve just signed away control of your insurance claim and may have permitted unscrupulous third parties to inflate the cost of the work. Ultimately, you could be sued or face a lien on your property for the difference between what your insurer legitimately owes the contractor and what was actually billed.”
Claims filed under an “assignment of benefits’’ or “AOB” form, which was intended to save homeowners money when having contracted work done, often get abused by unscrupulous vendors- which puts the insurer at risk of being unrightfully sued, driving up costs for businesses and homeowners alike.
“There’s no question that the assignment of benefit situation in Florida is out of control,” said Barry Gilway, CEO, President and Executive Director of Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. He also shared with Florida Chamber Insurance Summit attendees that 85 percent of water claims come from an attorney, not the homeowner or an adjuster, which drives up costs through litigation.
Improving on Florida’s bottom-10 legal climate, PIP reforms and a checkup on Florida’s economy – as well as its electorate – round out today’s agenda.
On Wednesday, members of the Florida House and Senate will gather to provide a legislative overview of what to expect during the 2015 Legislative Session. Private flood insurance markets, as well as a discussion of major Florida Supreme Court cases that could impact Florida’s workers’ compensation system, will be a part of Wednesday’s conversation. Click here for a more complete agenda.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.