- Updating you on what's going on
The Office of Insurance Regulation (Office) announced that Florida is the first state in the nation to implement comprehensive legislation requiring life insurance companies to search the United States Social Security Death Master File (DMF) and compare the records of current life insurance policies and those going back to January 1, 1992, when trying to find beneficiaries of a life insurance benefit. Senate Bill 966, signed today by Governor Scott, will give Floridians more protections of their life insurance benefits and provide life insurance companies with a standardized methodology for locating beneficiaries.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater released the following statement regarding Governor Scott’s signing of SB 966, a bill sponsored by Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto and Representative Bill Hager that strengthens consumer protections related to life insurance.
“The purchase of a life insurance policy is one of the most important purchases a family can make, and yet it was discovered several years ago that many life insurance companies built in business practices that intentionally shielded them from knowledge of a policyholder’s death, a practice which drastically reduces the number of policies that are properly—and timely—paid out.
“Through more than five years of regulatory investigations, Florida has been a leader in securing national settlement agreements with twenty of the largest insurance companies in the nation—agreements that ensure these companies will seek out beneficiaries and pay them long overdue benefits. While these agreements corrected the course for the way these twenty companies conduct business, it was time to ensure that all companies operating in the state of Florida were held to the same standards of upholding the promises they made to policyholders.
Today, the Financial Services Commission appointed David Altmaier as the new Insurance Commissioner for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Mr. Altmaier will succeed Kevin M. McCarty, who has served as the incumbent in this position since 2003.
Mr. Altmaier has been an employee of the Office since 2008 and most recently served as Deputy Commissioner for Property and Casualty Insurance. In this role, he provided regulatory, legislative, and policy support to the Insurance Commissioner, while also overseeing the Product Review and Financial Oversight business units. During his time with the Office, Mr. Altmaier has held various roles within the property and casualty business unit to include Chief Analyst and as Director of Property & Casualty Financial Oversight.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced the arrest of Maira Chirinos, owner of Pompano Beach construction company Tocoa Builders, Inc. Chirinos is alleged to have misrepresented information regarding Tocoa Builder’s operations, employees and payroll when applying for a workers’ compensation policy. By doing so, Chirinos avoided at least $1.8 million in workers’ compensation premium payments. Workers’ compensation policies protect employees in the event of an on-the-job injury and if proper policies are not in place, injured employees could be faced with lost wages and costly medical expenses to cover.
The Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) announced 10 arrests following a multi-agency undercover workers’ compensation sting in Manatee County. These 10 individuals advertised their ability to perform wide-ranging plumbing and electrical work without proper licenses or training, and without having workers’ compensation coverage to protect their employees in the event of an accident or injury.
During the two-day operation, DIF detectives, accompanied by logistical and tactical support from multiple agencies, established an undercover sting in an effort to stop this illegal practice. Detectives responded to public advertisements created by the defendants, requesting that they perform services at a specified location in Manatee County.
“This partnered operation serves as a reminder to all Floridians that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said CFO Jeff Atwater. “Consumers should ask questions, get all offers in writing and verify the credentials of every individual who may provide goods or services before any work begins.”
Those who were arrested include:
• Carmelo Montalvo
• Joseph V. Richard
• Mark W. Colvin
• Ernest J. LeBrecque
• Mitchell M. Torres
• John Goodman
• Rocki Fair II
• Scott H. Zimpel
• Brandon A. Jorquera
• Vadim Davydov
The Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) announced the arrest of Mark J. Klingel by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. Klingel was arrested for communications fraud related to his alleged involvement in an elaborate advance fee for loan scam that operated from his accounting firm, Mark J. Klingel CPA, LLC, in North Port. Codefendant Stephen Eugene Hummell was arrested in March 2016.
“Fighting financial crime is one of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation’s highest priorities,” said Commissioner Drew J. Breakspear. “We are committed to working with our partners to protect Floridians from financial criminals and their scams.”
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (Office) has issued a Consent Order approving, with additional requirements, Anthem, Inc.’s (Anthem) application to acquire 100% of the issued and outstanding voting securities of HealthSpring of Florida (d/b/a Leon Medical Centers Health Plans), Cigna Dental Health of Florida, Inc, and Cigna Healthcare of Florida, Inc. The proposed acquisition of Cigna’s Florida companies is part of Anthem’s proposal to acquire the Cigna Corporation (Cigna).
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (Office) has approved the removal of up to 19,535 personal residential policies from Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens) for the June 21, 2016 take-out period. The following company has been approved to participate:
· National Specialty Insurance Company – approved to remove up to 19,535 personal residential policies (Coastal Account)
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater applauded Governor Rick Scott for signing a consumer-orientated piece of legislation that protects Floridians from balance billing. While consumers pay health insurance premiums each month to cover predicted medical bills, many are finding themselves with expensive and unforeseen bills as a result of receiving care from an out-of-network provider.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), released its annual Following the Money report that puts state governments’ access to spending information to the test. The nation’s 50 states are ranked from top to bottom based on how much information they publicly provide about state spending and how easily such information is to understand and obtain. For the fourth year in a row, Florida received an “A” grade and was ranked in the top 10 in the nation.
When CFO Atwater assumed this office in 2011, Florida had a low “D” grade and was ranked 36th in the nation. However, Florida’s grade has continued to improve with each year CFO Atwater has been in office because of his commitment to transparency. This year, Florida once again received a high grade and was ranked eighth in the nation.
CFO Atwater said, “When I took office in 2011, I was not satisfied with where we stood in these rankings. Just as every American taxpayer deserves the right to access information about how our federal government is spending tax dollars, so do Floridians. When I was first elected to this post, I committed to making Florida’s data more transparent, accountable and open. In 2012, I championed changes that led to the creation of the Florida Accountability Contract Tracking System (FACTS), which pulled back the curtains on state spending.
We highly recommend that licensees routinely check their MyProfile account(s) for messages from the Department. We send an email notification at the same time to remind you to check your MyProfile account but on rare occasions you may not receive that email. For that reason, we suggest you add our domains dfs.state.fl.us and MyFloridaCFO.com to your email software's Trusted or Safe Senders List to ensure you are able to receive email notifications from us. Licensees who have a valid email address on file with the Department, as required by law, are sent important email notifications when something that affects their application, license, continuing education, or appointment(s) occurs. Additionally, we will keep you informed with warnings regarding new schemes and scams being marketed to licensees. You can update your contact information through your MyProfile account. We want to keep you informed in a timely manner of pertinent information. You are still required to abide by the Florida Insurance Code regardless of whether you read the information we provide or attempt to provide.