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Legislative veteran joins Insurance Consumer Advocate's Office

1/6/2012

By: Christine Jordan Sexton

Florida Current

For nearly 20  years he had a role in writing Florida's insurance laws as the lead legislative staff. Now Brian Deffenbaugh has joined the Insurance Consumer Advocate's Office.

Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott said on Thursday Deffenbaugh "brings a completeness to the shop" and will help her office be as proactive a insurance consumer advocate as possible.

"I'm extraordinarily grateful to  have him on my team," she told The Florida Current.

Deffenbaugh will serve as senior counsel and will have flexibility in his schedule. Westcott said she has budgeted between $90,000 and $100,000 for the position. Terry Butler, the interim insurance consumer advocate before Westcott came on board, has left and now works for the Department of Financial Services general counsel office, Westcott said.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater appointed Westcott insurance consumer advocate this past spring. Since that time she has spearheaded a personal injury protection (PIP) workgroup.

While Deffenbaugh is versed in all lines of insurance, having served as the staff director for both the House and Senate insurance committees, Westcott says she "loves the fact Brian has expertise on the life and health side as well."

That puts her office in a better position to react to the eventual U.S. Supreme Court decision on whether the federal mandate to buy health insurance is constitutional.

Whether the law is found legal or not, Westcott said, "we need to be able to respond."

Deffenbaugh has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Notre Dame University and a juris doctorate from Florida State University.

Westcott's office will also focus on sinkholes and the property insurance market, and track the implementation of SB 408, passed during the 2011 session.

Reporter Christine Jordan Sexton can be reached at csexton@thefloridacurrent.com.