An Orlando Sentinel article, Florida Lawmakers Are Being Misled About Insurance Lawsuits, Expert Contends,1 makes one wonder whether Florida’s Insurance Commissioner has sold out Floridians to benefit Florida’s property insurance industry. One of the country’s most noted insurance experts, Birny Birnbaum, was quoted in the article concerning a letter Florida’s Insurance Commissioner wrote:
A state agency provided the Legislature with misleading data about Florida property insurance lawsuits, according to an insurance expert, adding to the debate as lawmakers consider a bill to limit consumer access to the courts when seeking claims from insurers.
But Birny Birnbaum, executive director for the Center for Economic Justice, said Altmaier’s letter did not paint a complete picture of the situation. In a report sent to the committee on April 16, Birnbaum argues ‘any homeowners insurance litigation problem can be tied to a small number of insurers and is not an industry-wide problem demanding wholesale changes to the civil justice system.’
Birnbaum served as chief economist for the Texas Department of Insurance. Birnbaum sent his report on behalf of the Florida Consumer Action Network.
In a phone call, Birnbaum explained his objections to Altmaier’s letter. ‘He didn’t present all the data that’s available, and … he didn’t present legislators with the full picture to say this is what’s going on,’ he said.
Specifically, Birnbaum takes issue with the presentation as something happening across the insurance industry in Florida. He points to data from the same set that Altmaier used showing at least 22 insurance companies in the state with no litigation and fewer than a third of insurers with more than 30% of claims becoming lawsuits.
Why doesn’t Florida Insurance Commissioner Altmaier study the claims conduct of some of Florida’s insurance companies that “zero out” legitimate claims, as recently noted in, Zeroed Out Hurricane Claims and Cheating Claims Practices—Why Are Our Florida Politicians Ignoring These Ongoing Claims Problems and Seemingly Protecting Cheating Insurance Companies?
Why doesn’t Florida’s Insurance Commissioner study the relationships of the Managing General Agents and other shareholder related entities of Florida’s insurance companies that skim off profits from the insurance companies and make them look like they are making less money than they really are? It should be noted that the current version of HB 305, authored by Representative Bob Rommel, specifically calls for the Florida Insurance Commissioner to do this type of activity, while Florida Senate Bill 76 has no such requirement. Both of these bills contain changes to laws that would harm policyholders, but the Florida Senate is much worse and is a wholesale sellout to the insurance industry.
Why isn’t Florida Insurance Commissioner Altmaier writing letters to everybody about how wonderful it would be if the language in HB 305 were passed so his office could start making an audit of those affiliated companies? Some would suggest it is because the answer to this post is “yes.”
1 Trevor Fraser. Florida Lawmakers Are Being Misled About Insurance Lawsuits, Expert Contends. Orlando Sentinel. April 20, 2021. Available at: https://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-bz-expert-disputes-florida-insurance-lawsuit-report-20210420-45ffkaqys5eiddjz7j5rza2z3u-story.html (last visited, April 21, 2021).