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CFO Atwater’s Department Recovers Nearly $12 Million in First Half of 2011 for Florida Consumers

7/14/2011

Contact: Alexis Lambert
(850) 413-2842
 
TALLAHASSEE—Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced today that the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Consumer Services and Division of Agent and Agency Services have helped recover nearly $12 million in claim payments, premium refunds, restitution and recoveries this year for Florida consumers. 
 
The Division of Consumer Services is available to answer questions and assist consumers in all lines of insurance—including homeowners, health, auto, life and warranties—handling an average of 20,000 calls a month. The Division of Agent and Agency Services licenses insurance professionals and investigates alleged violations of the Florida Insurance Code—handling an average of 400 cases a month.
 
“Our purpose is to help our fellow Floridians by providing tools, education and when necessary serving as mediators between them and insurance companies,” said CFO Atwater.  “Most situations can be easily resolved; we want consumers to know we are here to assist them when needed.”
 
Following is a synopsis of recent situations:
 
• An 80-year-old Hillsborough County woman contacted Consumer Services about her husband’s annuity policy after the company had not paid six months after his death.  With the assistance of a Consumer Services specialist who contacted the life insurance company on her behalf, her claim was settled and the consumer received payment of almost $318,000. 
 
• A representative for a damaged commercial property in Hillsborough County called about a property claim that went unpaid for approximately a year, and the policy was being non-renewed.  The consumer contacted Consumer Services to seek help with the unpaid claim.  The specialist contacted the insurance company for an explanation for the continued delays and proof of claim payment.  Approximately 10 days after receiving supporting documentation from the consumer, the specialist followed up with the company again and the consumer received the check for the policy limit of $188,000. 
 
• A case in which it was alleged an insurance agent grossly mishandled the finances of a senior couple living in Lake County was referred to the Division of Agent and Agency Services’ Bureau of Investigation. It was further alleged that the agent convinced the couple to surrender annuities they previously purchased through the agent and purchase new annuities for the sole purpose of earning more commission. An investigator was able to have the insurance company refund the surrender charges the couple incurred, which amounted to nearly $60,000. It was also alleged that the agent victimized other seniors through unsuitable or misleading life insurance and annuity transactions. Administrative charges have been filed against the agent’s insurance license. An investigation by the Division of Insurance Fraud led to a criminal charge of exploitation of the elderly—$100,000 or more filed against the agent. He is scheduled for sentencing in the criminal case.
 
For assistance with an insurance claim, question or complaint, log on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com or call our Consumer Helpline at (850) 413-3089 or toll-free at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236). Consumers can also access on-line an Insurance Library, numerous consumer brochures, read more about the CFO’s initiatives, and verify licensure of an insurance agent, agency or company.
 
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official and officer of the Florida Cabinet, oversees the Department of Financial Services.  CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.