Volume 5 Number 24
June 13, 2008

TASK FORCE ISSUES FINAL REPORT ON CITIZENS CLAIMS HANDLING

he Task Force on Citizens Property Insurance Claims Handling and Resolution, which was created by House Bill 1A, Section 38, during the 2007 Legislative Special Session A, issued its third and final report on June 11, 2008. However, the Task Force will release a supplemental report, sometime before its statutory authority expires this November, after working with Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens) to understand why so many consumers asked to have their claim for damages from the 2004-2005 hurricanes re-opened in 2007. The Task Force will also examine the results of these requests.

This new study is in direct response to questions raised by the Governor and the Chief Financial Officer regarding the need for the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund to issue bonds to raise $625 million to pay claims from the 2004-2005 hurricanes that were just filed or re-opened in 2007.  Citizens is not the only insurer that received and paid these new and re-opened claims that were filed. Most insurers who wrote coverage in the areas hit by Hurricane Wilma in 2005 have also been impacted by the same situation.

Since May 21, 2007, the Task Force has reviewed and monitored Citizens closure of its 2004/2005 hurricane claims; the implementation of procedures to handle future catastrophic events (CAT claims); the implementation of programs relating to the training of insurance agents, consumer services, administration of policies, and claims operations; and the establishment of its Office of the Internal Auditor.

The Task Force reported that it is confident that Citizens’ policyholders will not experience the same type of delays in the claims handling process as those affected by the 2004/2005 hurricane seasons as long as the policies and procedures presented to the Task Force are implemented, tested and adjusted to meet intended goals. The Task Force is relying on the statutorily required operational audits of the Office of the Auditor General and the Office of Insurance Regulation to ensure that the policies and procedures are being followed in order to ensure that Florida’s consumers are adequately protected.

In addition, the Task Force proposed legislation regarding Public Adjusters, which was adopted by the Legislature during the 2008 Legislative Session. Upon becoming law, Senate Bill 2012 will ensure that Public Adjusters are properly trained and that Florida consumers are protected from unfair solicitation practices and excessive fees.

For additional information about the Task Force, please visit the website at http://taskforceoncitizensclaimshandling.org/.