Dear Fellow Floridians:
This week, our state was impacted by Tropical Storm Colin. I'm pleased to see many of you were prepared as it could have been a much more severe storm. I urge you to take a moment to check in with family, friends and neighbors to see if any of them were affected, and to extend a helping hand.
As I shared with you briefly last week, non-weather related water loss insurance claims, such as a broken pipe, leaking appliance or sewage backup, are on the rise in South Florida. The number of claims have risen so dramatically in the tri-county area -- Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach -- that insurance rates are rising. When these water losses occur, we're finding that consumers quickly turn to professionals who help remove the water from their home, mitigate further damage to the property, and handle the resulting insurance claim. What's more, we're learning that in some cases, more than a month passes before the insurance company is notified that damage has happened.
However, insurers are concerned that the involvement of third party vendors such as contractors, water remediators, public adjusters, and attorneys have led to an increase in the number of non-catastrophic water loss claims and an increase in the expenses associated with these claims. While there are varying opinions as to why we're seeing this growing problem, all can agree on one thing: it needs to be addressed before it gets further out of hand.
That's why your Insurance Consumer Advocate, Sha'Ron James, is bringing stakeholders on all sides of this important issue together for a public forum designed to gather input and create a base for building a balanced solution to this problem. I've appointed Ms. James to represent all policyholders when insurance decisions are made. Her role is to offer guidance and a voice to the people of Florida, and she's inviting you to make your voices heard on this matter.
The forum will be held Tuesday, June 14, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Florida Atlantic University's Stadium Recruiting Room in Boca Raton. During this all day event, regulators, insurance companies, construction professionals and other stakeholders will present their findings, concerns, and hopefully, solutions. There will also be time for consumers to address this group of experts. It's only through this collective feedback that we can gain a true understanding of what's happening and what can be done about it.
To find the agenda and other related materials, please visit the Insurance Consumer Advocate's website at: http://www.myfloridacfo.com/Division/ICA/troubledwaters.htm.
To RSVP or to share your story, email the Advocate's Office at InsuranceConsumerAdvocate@myfloridacfo.com or give the Office a call at 850-413-5923.
In order to effect positive change, we need to hear from the people we've been elected or appointed to represent. For me, that's 20 million people -- readers like you.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida