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Florida Office of Insurance Regulation Highlights 2021 Leadership Efforts to Protect Consumers

Dec 29, 2021

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) is highlighting the leadership efforts made in 2021 to protect Floridians.

“Thanks to Governor DeSantis’ leadership, the steps taken this year highlight Florida’s commitment to protecting insurance consumers,” said Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier. “In one of the most complex markets in the world, Florida has continued to pursue insurance regulatory efforts and reforms that remain focused on consumer protection and provide meaningful long-term stability to our markets.”

The following items highlight the actions taken in 2021.


Promoting Stability in Florida’s Property Insurance Market

The Florida property insurance market is one of the most complex in the world and has faced significant challenges over the past several years. During the 2021 Legislative Session, OIR’s goal was to provide the Florida Legislature, Governor and Cabinet with relevant data to address cost drivers in the market and serve as a helpful resource to provide proactive solutions.

  • In January 2021, OIR provided the House Commerce Committee with a report detailing the cost drivers in the property insurance market.
  • In April 2021, OIR provided additional data detailing the staggering rates of litigation in Florida in comparison to the rest of the nation. Specifically, based on the most recent data available in 2019, Florida accounted for 8.16% of all homeowners’ claims opened by insurance companies in the U.S. However, in 2019, Florida accounted for 76.45% of all homeowners’ suits opened against insurance companies in the U.S.

Effective July 1, 2021, Senate Bill 76 helped provide critical insurance reform. Coupled with the passage of HB 7065 in 2019, Senate Bill 76 takes important steps to address the unique challenges facing the Florida property insurance market, address cost drivers within the market, and help stabilize rates for consumers. While these reforms will take time to take effect, OIR continues to closely monitor the market and look for additional regulatory and legislative tools to promote stability and ensure consumers are protected.

Consumers seeking to evaluate their coverage are encouraged to talk with their agent to find coverage that best suits their needs. Sample rates by county are available through the CHOICES rate comparison tool. As always, OIR’s goal is to ensure that insurance products are affordable, reliable, and available for Floridians. 

Leading Insurance Regulatory Efforts

Commissioner Altmaier served as President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

  • In 2020, after a unanimous vote of chief insurance regulators in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories, Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier was voted President of the NAIC for 2021.
  • Serving as President of the NAIC ensured Florida was uniquely positioned to guide state and national insurance regulatory discussions.

Florida continues to serve as a nationwide model for the private flood insurance market.

  • Florida leads the nation in the development of the private flood insurance market, which has grown more than 300% from 2017 to 2020.
  • Several states, such as Louisiana and South Carolina, have expanded their private flood insurance programs, citing Florida as a model.
  • Flood damages are not typically covered in a homeowners' insurance policy and even a small amount of water in a home can be very costly. Private flood insurance coverage offers consumers an alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). A list of private flood insurers in Florida can be found here.

In the 2021 Regular Session, Florida passed Senate Bill 728, Credit for Reinsurance.

  • SB 728 helps provide regulatory certainty for carriers to keep Florida’s market competitive.

Protecting Consumers from Surprise Medical Billing

Passed in 2020, House Bill 747 provides important protections for consumers accessing critical lifesaving air ambulance services.

Following the passage of the bill in 2020, a lawsuit was filed against the OIR to prohibit the law's enforcement. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2021. The successful dismissal of this lawsuit will ensure consumers are protected from extraordinary out-of-pocket expenses at a time when they need help most.

Promoting Access and Competition in Florida’s Health Insurance Market

OIR’s emphasis continues to be on competition and consumer choice within the health insurance market.

  • The individual market has increased the number of carriers in each county year-over-year. For 2022, there are three new entrants to the market offering plans in numerous counties. Many carriers continue to expand in multiple parts of the state, including the Treasure Coast, Tampa area, and Panhandle.
  • The small group market has maintained a healthy amount of competition and choice across the entire state and there are numerous carriers spread across the state for consumers to choose from.

Decreasing Workers’ Compensation Rates

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier issued a Final Order granting approval to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) for a statewide overall workers’ compensation insurance rate decrease of 4.9%. The rate decrease applies to both new and renewal workers’ compensation insurance policies effective in Florida as of January 1, 2022.

  • Florida businesses will see a reduction in workers’ compensation insurance rates for the fifth consecutive year.
  • This 4.9% reduction in workers' compensation rates lowers insurance costs for employers in 2022.

Safer workplaces, innovative techniques, and improved risk management practices have resulted in the continued decline in workers compensation claims, ultimately benefitting Florida businesses.

Responding to Surfside

Following the unimaginable collapse of Champlain Towers in Surfside, FL, OIR worked closely with Department of Financial Services (DFS), and the Insurance Consumer Advocate to assist consumers.

  • OIR’s Chief of Staff and the Director of the Property and Casualty Market Conduct Unit visited Surfside and joined CFO Patronis in briefing the Mayor and Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management on OIR’s response.
  • It is OIR’s expectation that companies be exhaustive in their efforts to provide assistance, quickly respond to consumer inquiries, and reduce barriers to filing claims. OIR launched a Surfside data call to more than 4,000 insurers for all policies in force at Champlain Towers South as part of the state's recovery efforts.

OIR will continue to work with DFS and the Insurance Consumer Advocate to ensure that insurers are adjusting and closing claims in an expeditious manner and monitor for long range impacts to this market.

Conducting an Audit of the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association

In 2021, DFS requested that OIR conduct a market conduct operational audit to analyze claims handling practices of the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association (NICA), the association designed provide compensation for qualifying families. The audit was conducted in close consultation with Florida's Insurance Consumer Advocate to determine if NICA complied with its statutory mandate to finance the reimbursement of actual expenses incurred by participant family members for medically necessary and reasonable care.

  • OIR hired an independent auditor to conduct the audit. The auditors went onsite to meet with NICA Directors and staff to ensure they had a comprehensive overview of processes, procedures, and access to necessary staff and claims files.
  • Within the final audit, OIR made 15 separate findings and provided recommendations to the NICA Board of Directors for each of these findings to administer the plan in a manner that promotes and protects the health and best interests of children with birth-related neurological injuries, as outlined in Florida Statutes.

The Board accepted all audit findings and indicated the report would serve as a valuable resource moving forward. Additionally, the Insurance Consumer Advocate agreed with the findings and recommendations within OIR’s audit, which are consistent with her recommendations to the Board.

OIR will continue to work with the NICA Board of Directors and staff to ensure the protection of participating families.

 

About the OIR

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) has primary responsibility for regulation, compliance, and enforcement of statutes related to the business of insurance and the monitoring of industry markets. For more information about OIR, please visit our website or follow us on Twitter @FLOIR_comm.