Florida’s Chief Financial Officer is calling for a major overhaul in the way insurance is handled to prevent fraud in wake of Hurricane Ian.
State CFO Jimmy Patronis said he plans to introduce new legislation in the upcoming session to address everything from bad public adjusters to helping consumers understand exactly what they’re signing.
The announcement comes as new insurance claims come in every day in the wake of Hurricane Ian.
As of Wednesday, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation revealed there have been 553,242 reported claims since Ian made landfall, with an estimated $6.45 billion in insurance losses. Of those claims, 386,426 were for residential property.
Patronis said he has a plan to put the brakes on fraud in wake of the storm.
“Public adjusters come into the market and there’s good public adjusters and there’s bad public adjusters,” Patronis said.
He said his plan will hopefully weed out bad public adjusters because it will reduce the amount they’re entitled to immediately following a storm by creating a schedule of how Florida residents’ payments will be laid out.
“For those that truly want to help people, you will have that opportunity to continue to help people in the state of Florida,” Patronis said. “But those that come in after a storm, after a disaster, we are going to curb your ability to take advantage of people.”
The plan also calls for an all-out ban on Assignment of Benefits, known as AOBs.
AOBs are an agreement that transfers insurance claims rights or benefits of the policy to a third party.
Patronis is also calling for the addition of a statewide prosecutor whose sole responsibility is to handle property insurance fraud. He is also asking for a $3 million anti-fraud and public education campaign.
The CFO also highlighted the Anti-Fraud Homeowner Squad, which was put into place last year. Since Ian’s impact, Patronis said the squads have already checked in with 7,000 people, contractors, and businesses to check for licensure, follow up on fraud leads and open investigations.
Patronis said if you’re the victim of fraud, you’re still advised to call the Fraud Hotline at 1-800-378-0445.