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Volume 5, No. 2 - February 2016

News You Can Use

- Updating you on what's going on

Additional Grand Theft Charges Filed Against Orange County Insurance Agent

The Florida Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF), which operates under the direction of CFO Jeff Atwater, announced that additional charges have been filed against Orange County insurance agent Mario Ferreri, owner of Orlando-based Financial Management Resources. After being arrested last year for allegedly stealing more than $1,000,000 from his clients, Ferreri is in the spotlight again as another victim has come forward in suspicion that a $95,000 check intended for an annuity payment may have also been stolen by the insurance agent.

In February 2013, the Department’s Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services' Bureau of Investigation received a complaint from Lincoln Life Insurance Company stating their suspicions that Ferreri had stolen two of his client’s insurance premium payments and used the money for his personal benefit. After an extensive review, the case was referred to colleagues in the Division of Insurance Fraud due to its criminal nature.

DIF’s investigation revealed that Ferreri had gained the trust of two of his clients and convinced them to make their premium payment checks payable to one or more of Ferreri’s companies instead of their respective insurance companies. By doing so, Ferreri claimed that he would be better able to manage their investments. It wasn't until the clients individually contacted their insurance carriers that they realized their payments had not been received.

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Georgia Insurance Agent Arrested for Stealing Thousands From Seniors

The Florida Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF), which operates under the direction of Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, announced the arrest of William David Rodeffer III of Folkston, Georgia. Rodeffer allegedly accepted insurance premium payments from two clients for insurance policies that were never purchased. Nearly $40,000 in premium payments was paid to Rodeffer on these two policies, one of which was for workers’ compensation insurance. The consumer who believed he purchased a workers’ compensation policy had an employee who was injured, and as his employer, he was left to cover an added $30,000 in medical bills and lost wages. In total, early $70,000 in financial losses were caused by Rodeffer.

Once licensed as an insurance agent in Georgia, Rodeffer was working with an agent in Georgia but moved to Yulee when they opened a second office there. He applied for a license in Florida but was denied because of his criminal history, so he was not qualified to transact insurance business in Florida.

The Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services' Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation after The American Legion advised it had submitted premium to Rodeffer, but never received a policy after numerous attempts to contact him. Investigators audited Rodeffer's personal and business bank records and determined the victims' checks were deposited into the accounts. Due to the criminal nature of the violations, investigators referred their findings to DIF.

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CFO Jeff Atwater Encourages Pensacola Residents to Call the Departmentof Financial Services for Insurance Claims Assistance

As damage continues to be surveyed from last week's severe weather in Pensacola, many residents now face a multitude of insurance-related questions as they survey damages to their homes and vehicles. CFO Jeff Atwater is offering assistance to area residents as they navigate the insurance claims process.

“Tornadoes can quickly turn a family’s life upside down and take away the very roof over their heads,” said CFO Atwater. “My thoughts and prayers remain with the Pensacola community as they continue to deal with the after effects of recent tornadoes. We stand ready and willing to answer any insurance questions residents may have.”

During this time, it is important for policyholders to understand their rights and responsibilities during the claims process. Residents are encouraged to download a copy of our Department’s homeowners’ insurance toolkit, which outlines the claims filing process in plain language.

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Office Releases Assignment of Benefits Data Call Report

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (Office) has released the “2015 Review of Assignment of Benefits Data Call Report", which provides aggregated results from a data call requiring the participation of the top 25 personal residential insurance companies writing Homeowners (HO-3) and Dwelling Fire policies. Other personal residential property insurance companies also voluntarily participated in the data call.

The overall purpose was to assist in evaluating the impact to Florida's property claims as a result of an assignment of benefits from a policyholder to a third party for water or roof damage repair (i.e. water pipes busting, leaks from appliances, etc.).

A copy of the report can be accessed at: http://www.floir.com/siteDocuments/AssignmentBenefitsDataCallReport02082016.pdf

Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office Rules Leon High School Fire Arson

Investigators with the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office, Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations and the Tallahassee Fire Department have determined that the fire that occurred February 1st at Leon High School in Tallahassee was intentionally set and an act of arson. Fire investigators are working jointly with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office to identify the person(s) responsible for this act. At this time, the investigation remains open and ongoing.

Anyone with information regarding this fire is asked to call the Florida Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention Arson Tip Line at 1-877-NOARSON (1-877-662-7766). Students, teachers, and community members can elect to remain anonymous if they wish. A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for information that results in an arrest and conviction.

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Office Approves Aetna Inc.'s Application to Acquire Humana's Florida-based Affiliates

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (Office) issued a Consent Order approving, with additional requirements, Aetna Inc.’s application to acquire 100% of the issued and outstanding voting securities of Humana Health Insurance Company of Florida, Inc., Humana Medical Plan, Inc., Careplus Health Plans, Inc., and CompBenefits Company. The proposed acquisition of Humana’s Florida companies is part of Aetna’s proposal to acquire Humana, Inc.

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Office Approves Removal of Up to 66,500 Policies from Citizens for April 2016 Take-Out

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (Office) has approved the removal of up to 65,000 personal residential policies and 1,500 commercial residential polices from Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens). The following two companies have been approved to participate:

· Anchor Property & Casualty Insurance Company – approved to remove up to 10,000 personal residential policies (8,164 Personal Lines Account and 1,836 Coastal Account)

· Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance Company – approved to remove up to 55,000 personal residential policies (35,000 Personal Lines Account and 20,000 Coastal Account) and up to 1,500 commercial residential policies (1,300 Commercial Lines Account and 200 Coastal Account)

Citizen’s Personal Lines and Commercial Lines Accounts are primarily non-coastal properties and the Coastal Account is coastal properties. The take-out periods are April 19, 2016 for personal residential impacting both the Personal Lines/Coastal Account policies and April 12, 2016 for commercial residential impacting both the Commercial Lines/Coastal Account policies. This is part of the state’s ongoing depopulation effort to reduce the number of policies in the state-created Citizens and transfer them to the private insurance market.

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We highly recommend that licensees routinely check their MyProfile accounts for messages from the Department. We send an email notification when a message has been sent to remind you to check your MyProfile account but on rare occasions you may not receive that email. For that reason, we suggest you add our domains dfs.state.fl.us and MyFloridaCFO.com to your email software's Trusted or Safe Senders List to ensure you are able to receive email notifications from us. Licensees who have a valid email address on file with the Department, as required by law, are sent important email notifications when something that affects their application, license, continuing education, or appointment(s) occurs. Additionally, we will keep you informed with warnings regarding new schemes and scams being marketed to licensees. You can update your contact information through your MyProfile account. We want to keep you informed in a timely manner of pertinent information. You are still required to abide by the Florida Insurance Code regardless of whether you read the information we provide or attempt to provide.