On Friday, state Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis spoke at the Florida Chamber 2020 Virtual Insurance Summit. Patronis provided an overview of Florida’s insurance industry, outlined the need for COVID-19 business liability protections and more. A portion of the CFO’s remarks are below.
Patronis on Florida’s Insurance Industry
“I’ve been monitoring Florida’s insurance industry closely. It’s something I get an opportunity to work with day in and day out with the Office of Insurance Regulation. We have a very complex insurance market in the state of Florida. It’s one of the most complex in the whole world. We live in a Peninsula that is surrounded by warm water and we’re going to be subject to storms. Our state has had multiple hurricanes over the last four years, and that’s having an impact on the property market, especially combined with high catastrophe losses, increased weather-related losses, insurance fraud, and social inflation, in addition to increased reinsurance rates. Because of this, we are seeing premiums grow and they will likely continue to grow without meaningful legislation next session.
“All of this is a combination of events that ultimately can be a driver to increase rates in the state of Florida, but we can slow this down, we can correct it. We can protect our businesses and our citizens with meaningful legislation this upcoming legislative session. We must do something for our consumers and insurance market in the state of Florida.
“We were able to work together a few years ago when it came to dealing with AOB. We got to partner with the Florida Chamber and other stakeholders to pass meaningful AOB legislation and we have seen significant improvements because of that reform. I appreciate the Legislature and Governor DeSantis’s leadership on that issue. We will continue to fight fraud to ensure that the citizens of the state of Florida and every citizen has the best protections possible.
“I am very proud every single year that I’ve had this job as your CFO, we have fought for reforms that will do better by the citizens of the state of Florida when it comes to keeping insurance affordable and being responsive back to the policy holder.”
Patronis on Combating Fraud in Florida
“With insurance fraud, let me share some frightening statistics. Florida ranks #2 with identity theft in the whole United States. The Federal Trade Commission last year alone said that this accounted for over $90 million worth of expenses and this is alarming if we don’t do something. If we don’t act now this will get out of hand. All of this ultimately contributes to increase insurance rates in the state of Florida.
“This is why we launched Fraud Free Florida. It’s our initiative to create as much transparency as we can when it comes to insurance fraud, identity theft and other forms of financial fraud. It’s why we have gone around the state creating MOU’s with law enforcement agencies and state attorneys. We’ll continue to build upon that and have free flowing communication to do everything we can to put these perpetrators behind bars, and at the same time bring forward that critical information and data that we can take back to the legislature and partner with the Chamber and ultimately have a good outcome with the legislative process.
“As we continue to work together, we will create an environment that deters these scam artists from doing any more harm to Florida citizens. These partnerships will help us communicate and share these resources better so we can stay at least 2-3 steps ahead of these con artists that look forward to stealing your money.”
Patronis on COVID-19 Business Liability Protections
“Lastly, what I want to talk to you about is business liability insurance. This is very concerning to me. As employers are dealing with the anxieties of dealing with the COVID-19 environment right now, they’re dealing with more expenses, social distancing, less space to be able to take care of their customers. As businesses are embracing greater levels of sanitation and operating on smaller margins, I think there’s sometimes conflicting guidance and information that’s out there as we try to do what’s right by the citizens.
“Folks are already operating on thin enough margins; we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help them protect their employees and protect their customers. It’s a balancing act. But you know, if businesses are doing everything they can to do right by their customers, they should have some piece of mind.
“I want to point out our three guiding principles that I’m advocating for: #1 – businesses should do right by the customers and employees, #2: be consistent and be fair, and #3: justice should come first, not attorneys’ profits. It’s time for these vital protections to be moving forward and proactive policies need to be part of the debate to ensure a healthy economic rebound for our state.
“We can’t do this alone. We’re going to need to be all hands on deck to ensure this legislation becomes a reality in 2021. The state of Florida must continue to move forward and continue to do right by our citizens and businesses, so we get these measures across the finish line.”