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McCollum, Sink Present over $1.48 Million in Settlement Funds to Tampa Public Entities

2/9/2009

CONTACT:  Kevin Cate or Jayme O’Rourke
(850) 413-2842
 
Hillsborough County School District to receive over $886,000 from insurance-related settlement
 
TAMPA, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink today presented six Tampa area public entities with checks totaling over $1.48 million from two insurance-related settlements reached in 2007 and 2008. Hillsborough County School District was one of those entities, receiving a total of more than $886,000 from the settlements which resolved allegations over undisclosed fees paid to two national insurance brokers, Willis Group Holdings, Inc. and Aon Corp.
 
The Attorney General and the CFO presented checks to the following entities for these amounts: Hillsborough County School District for $886,038; Pinellas County School Board for $457,671; Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners for $181,440; Tampa Bay Water for $145,204; Tampa Hillsborough County Expressway Authority for $141,120; and City of Tampa Housing Authority for $79,834. The settlements were jointly negotiated by the Attorney General’s Antitrust Division, the Department of Financial Services and the Office of Insurance Regulation.
 
“One of the most important responsibilities of the Attorney General is to enforce Florida’s Antitrust and consumer protection laws,” said Attorney General McCollum. “I am pleased and proud to be able to return these funds to these public entities.”
 
“As Florida’s fiscal watchdog, I am proud of the role my department played in returning these ill-gotten funds back to the people that serve taxpayers,” said Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.
“It is very important to me that we are able to protect Florida consumers and establish transparency in insurance transactions,” said Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty. “I am glad that money is being given back to these Florida entities that were charged unnecessary fees as a result of the bad business practices of these brokers.”
 
In July 2007, the Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Financial Services (DFS) and the Office of Insurance Regulation obtained a $2 million settlement with Willis, resolving allegations that the company improperly collected undisclosed fees or commissions from various public- entity clients. The company's clients included more than a dozen public entities in Florida, including economic development councils, city and county governments and school boards. A similar $2.6 million settlement was reached with Aon Corp. in May 2008; Aon Corp. had over 45 Florida public entities as clients.
 
“We thank Attorney General Bill McCollum, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, and Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty for their efforts,” said Hillsborough County School District Superintendent MaryEllen Elia. “They have provided at least a little relief during difficult budget times.”
 
Insurance brokers represent their clients by advising them on their insurance needs and options. The brokers also represent the clients when negotiating the price and terms of insurance coverage offered by insurance companies. Willis and Aon Corp. each brokered multiple insurance contracts in Florida from 1998 through 2004.
Under the agreements, both companies also agreed to make full written disclosure of commissions and to pay the costs of the investigation.
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.