|Date:||February 16, 2017|
|Source:||Tampa Bay Business Journals|
Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) filed a bill Monday to crack down on insurance fraud that would require all insurers in Florida to develop anti-fraud plans.
Brandes said insurance fraud contributes to about ten percent of the overall cost for various types of insurance. His office pointed to issues in Miami-Dade County where Assignment of Benefit claims are being flagged as potentially fraudulent at a rate far higher than what the local industry can handle.
Assignment of Benefit allows, for example, a homeowner to let a contracting company handling repairs collect insurance benefits. In Miami-Dade, homes have been inundated with water damage resulting from bursting and leaking pipes.
Attempts have been made in the past to address rising fraud in the insurance industry, but those have failed. Part of the problem, according to Brandes’ aides, is the bills have focused too much on revamping the entire system. This bill seeks to streamline resources already available by shifting designated prosecutors to the places where they’re needed most.
The anti-fraud plan requirement for insurance companies includes an annual reporting provision on statistics like how many claims were flagged as potentially fraudulent and how many were dismissed or upheld following the investigative process.
The information would then be shared with the state’s Division of Investigative and Forensic Service, which operates under the Chief Financial Officer. The data would give the state officials a better framework to create improved efficiencies in dealing with fraud.
Brandes began looking into filing a bill after he spoke with current Florida CFO Jeff Atwater who wanted to address the growing issue. Atwater is resigning his position following the 2017 legislative session. The 60-day session begins March 7.
Even though it’s unclear who will replace Atwater, Brandes is confident Gov. Rick Scott will appoint someone who is dedicated to reducing insurance fraud.