Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis issues recommendations for Florida's troubled property insurance market
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has announced five legislative proposals to combat insurance fraud ahead of the upcoming special session on property insurance.
" We are under attack by fraudsters who are gaming the system, increasing insurance rates. To win, we need the troops, the weapons, and a full commitment to the mission. This special session, I’ll put forward initiatives to crack down on fraud," Patronis said in his announcement.
Patronis’ plan contains five proposals:
1. Create three teams to investigate claims of property insurance fraud. The investigators would be housed under the Fepartment of Financial Services, and include the following:
- 23 new positions, including:
- Fifteen detectives and three supervisors to work cases;
- Three attorneys, and one administrator, to prosecute cases; and, one analyst to help expedite investigations.
The three teams would cover Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
2. A $3 million anti-fraud and public education campaign. According to Patronis, “policyholders do not understand that they are signing their rights away or that litigation will only slow down their claims and could result in liens on their property.”
3. Amend Florida’s False Claims Act to allow whistle blowers to recover damages in Qui-Tam cases. These are cases where the general public can file whistleblower complaints over fraud cases, without necessarily being the victim, or as part of the fraud taking place. “This reporting mechanism will incentivize the public, financially, to come forward and report fraud,” Patronis said.
4. Provide awards for calls to the “Florida Fraud Fighter Reward” tip line. Current law issues awards only when there is a conviction. The proposal lowers the standard, from conviction to arrest, for tipsters to qualify for the $25,000 anti-fraud program to get more participation.
5. changes to Assignment of Benefits (AOBs) law, including banning the bundling of AOBs. AOB is when a homeowner signs over their insurance policy to a contractor, who then works directly with the insurance company. In 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis approved a law making changes to how AOB’s work.
“Florida communities are under attack by fraudsters who are willing to do anything to game the system,” said Patronis.
These proposals come just a little over a week before lawmakers convene in Tallahassee for a special legislative session on property insurance.
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