During the Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit last week, state Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced the formation and deployment of two new property insurance fraud-fighting squads dedicated to combat property insurance fraud in Florida.
The CFO’s Division of Investigative and Forensic Services (DIFS) encompasses all law enforcement and forensic components residing within the Department of Financial Services and investigates insurance fraud, workers’ compensation fraud, arson and the misuse of state funds.
“Every year as CFO, I’ve worked to protect Florida consumers and combat rising insurance rates in our state. Whether it’s tackling AOB abuse, curbing post-disaster fraud, or stopping unscrupulous contractors, eliminating fraud is key to keeping insurance costs in check. Since I took office in 2017, our fraud unit has made more than 4,500 fraud and arson-related arrests. These efforts have resulted in a total of more than $173 million in court-ordered restitution,” Patronis said.
“Last year, we worked with the Florida Legislature to create two new fraud-fighting squads solely dedicated to fighting homeowners and property insurance fraud in Florida. The new squads are comprised of 13 total personnel including ten sworn law enforcement detectives and are boots on the ground right now in Tampa and Orlando working with our federal, state, and local partners to investigate property insurance fraud. While based in Central Florida, these squads have the authority to investigate significant cases throughout the state,” he added.
“Additionally, I have directed these detectives to focus on significant cases involving organized schemes to defraud, multiple suspects or jurisdictions, contractor fraud, fictitious damage claims, inflated damage claims, and fraudulent water and roof damage claims. While my teams put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to hold fraudsters accountable, we cannot do it alone. That’s why we are employing a task force approach with both squads by joining with the Statewide Prosecutors Office, local state attorneys, law enforcement agencies, and the insurance industry to better coordinate our fraud-fighting efforts to protect Florida’s insurance consumers,” Patronis concluded.
Patronis also highlighted his Residential Resiliency Tax Relief legislative proposal, which provides a tax exemption for retrofit improvements so Floridians can further protect their homes and businesses from storm damage while saving money. This sales tax exemption allows for consumers to spend money on retrofit improvements while keeping more money in their pockets from tax savings and lowering their insurance premiums. Some of the items that would be included are impact-resistant doors, windows, and roof securements.
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