Florida's insurance commissioner steps down a day after lawmakers approved an industry overhaul
After lawmakers this week passed an overhaul of the state’s property-insurance system, Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier on Thursday submitted his resignation to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Altmaier, who made the resignation effective Dec. 28, has been Florida’s top insurance regulator since 2016. The letter did not detail his future plans.
“Under your leadership, we have worked with the Florida Legislature to meet historic challenges with historic reforms, we have come together to respond to catastrophes, and we’ve implemented rules and regulations that have safe guarded Florida’s insurance consumers while keeping our insurance markets viable,” Altmaier wrote in the letter to DeSantis.
Altmaier has been in the post as the state has faced major troubles in the property-insurance industry. Insurers during the past two years have dropped hundreds of thousands of policies and received approval of large rate increases because of financial losses. Six insurers have been deemed insolvent this year.
During a special legislative session this week, Altmaier backed a bill (SB 2-A) that will make major changes in the system. Those changes include trying to reduce lawsuits against insurers and spending $1 billion in tax dollars to help provide critical reinsurance to carriers.
DeSantis is expected to sign the bill, which received final approval Wednesday from the House.
Some lawmakers have been critical of the Office of Insurance Regulation’s oversight of the industry and questioned Altmaier this week about issues such as providing data and monitoring insurance companies.
“What do you think will be announced first: The next insurance company leaves Florida’s collapsing market or his new high paying job in the insurance industry?” House Democratic spokesman Jackson Peel said in a Twitter post Thursday after the resignation became public.
But state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who helps oversee the Office of Insurance Regulation, praised Altmaier.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with @FLOIR_comm Commissioner Altmaier since I took office in 2017,” Patronis tweeted. “David is a fantastic public servant and has been a steady hand for Florida’s insurance market during challenging times. I thank him for his service to the state and wish him well!”
It was not immediately clear who would replace Altmaier. DeSantis and state Cabinet members appoint the insurance commissioner.
DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske issued a statement that indicated the timing of the resignation was linked to the end of the special session.
“With this successful special session behind us, the Office of Insurance Regulation Commissioner David Altmaier will be stepping down at the end of this year,” Fenske said in the statement. “Since the governor took office, Commissioner Altmaier has been instrumental in helping to pass and implement major property insurance reforms to bring relief to Floridians. We want to thank him for his years of public service.”
Altmaier began working for the Office of Insurance Regulation in 2008 and previously was an insurance agent and a high-school math teacher, according to information posted on the office’s website. He served as president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2021.
Though Altmaier submitted the resignation letter Thursday, Sen. Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach, asked him Monday during a Senate Fiscal Policy Committee meeting about leaving the post. In response, Altmaier did not deny that he would step down — but also did not confirm it.
The News Service of Florida asked his office Tuesday morning but did not receive confirmation.
“This week, OIR (the Office of Insurance Regulation) is specifically focused on supporting efforts to stabilize the Florida property insurance market,” spokeswoman Samantha Bequer said in an email at the time. “Any official updates regarding the Florida Insurance Commissioner will be shared appropriately by OIR. At this time, we will not be further perpetuating this rumor.”
Copyright 2022 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7. To see more, visit WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7.