Capitol to Courthouse Headliners: Monday, May 17

May 17, 2010



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Ironshore Enters Florida High-Valued Homeowners Market

Specialty insurer Ironshore Inc. has entered the personal lines market to underwrite a high value homeowners program for properties valued in excess of $1 million. The program will be offered in partnership with Hull & Co., Inc., a wholesale insurance intermediary.


Florida’s Homeowners Choice Sees Decrease in First-Quarter Profits on Reinsurance Costs

Homeowners Choice Inc. profit for the first quarter decreased to $698,000 from $6.3 million the same period last year, as reinsurance costs accounted for 46% of the company’s gross premiums earned during the quarter.


Florida’s new emergency head hopes to heal rifts

The state’s Division of Emergency Management, under a second director since Craig Fugate left a year ago to run its federal counterpart, is getting a jump start on the hurricane season.


New red-light camera legislation likely eliminates citations for right-on-red violations

The new Florida law that legalizes the use of red-light running cameras on state roads could, ironically, have the unintended consequence of killing Collier County’s barely 1-year-old red-light camera program once and for all, some county officials say.


Loophole already found in pain-pill law

The new pain-clinic law bars doctors from giving out more than 72 hours’ worth of pills to those who pay by cash, check or credit card. It doesn’t prevent them from charging a flat fee for an “office visit” and simply giving away pills for free.


Deputies made the final arrest Tuesday in a 2005 insurance scheme.

Rancy played a part in a staged accident, one of two organized by his cousin, Raymond Jean-Louis, the affidavit says. Jean-Louis enlisted the help of family and friends to assist him in arranging the accidents, promising them a share of the insurance claims.


McCollum Files Amended Complaint Challenging Health Care Reform Act

Seven states, National Federation of Independent Businesses added as plaintiffs

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced the filing of an amended complaint in the lawsuit challenging the federal health care reform act.


Universal Health buys Windmoor owner Psychiatric Solutions

Universal Health Services Inc. said it would acquire Psychiatric Solutions Inc. in a deal valued at about $3.1 billion.


Florida lawmakers OK Medicaid pilot program extension

It was set to expire in 2011, but the bill would extend that deadline. Some say it allows for savings, while others feel it makes access to care more complicated.


Florida Medicaid audit called ‘shocking’

A state audit criticizes Florida’s Medicaid program for shoddy oversight of payments to hospitals, nursing homes and others, and says AHCA even forgot to hold competitive bidding for a $1.8 million contract.


Florida’s doctor discipline system not tough enough, critics say

Most cases dropped, few serious penalties imposed

Raven Morgan can’t believe a nurse who knowingly exposed patients to the risk of infections such as HIV/AIDS can still work in Florida.


Crist Vetoes 2 Bills; Move Could Strain Relations With GOP-Controlled Legislature

Governor Charlie Crist on Saturday shot down two bills sent to him by state lawmakers, a move that could strain an already tense relationship with the GOP-controlled Legislature.


State lawmakers debate merits of special session on oil drilling

An onslaught of oil threatens their beaches and fleeing tourists are already costing their seaside businesses millions, but few lawmakers from the state’s Gulf Coast want to return to Tallahassee to put a constitutional ban on the statewide ballot.


Blog:  Road Raid Would Kill 11,000 Jobs

Business groups say the Legislature’s latest raid on the state Transportation Trust Fund will put a screeching halt to new road projects and throw 11,000 workers off the job.


Crist signs bill to launch FAU’s medical school

Governor Charlie Crist on Saturday signed a bill that authorizes Florida Atlantic University to open its own medical school.


Florida investigating ‘bogus’ foreclosure records

Attorney General looking at Fidelity National Financial and Lender Processing Services

Florida’s attorney general is investigating whether Jacksonville-based Lender Processing Services and Fidelity National Financial were involved with forging real estate documents for foreclosure lawsuits.


Florida Falls in Ranking of Business-Friendly States

Chief Executive Magazine survey drops state from No. 3 to No. 6

Florida has been knocked out of the top five rankings of the best states in which to do business by Chief Executive Magazine, but it still holds a spot in the list of the top 10 business-friendly states. And it’s high above California, which has held the bottom spot on the list for the last several years.


Florida U.S. Senate candidate Greene made billions through controversial financial move

“Naked credit default swap” may sound vaguely obscene, but it’s actually a complex financial instrument that helped make Palm Beach real estate investor Jeff Greene a billionaire.


Feds sanction Miami banker tied to Madoff fund

The Federal Reserve Bank has banned a Miami banker accused of investing client funds into Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme from working at a bank or financial institution.


Gov. Crist: Immigration reform can help Social Security

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who’s running for Senate as an independent, said Friday that providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants will help keep Social Security solvent – an idea he favors over his opponent’s suggestion to raise the eligibility age for benefits.


Ousted Florida Public Service Commissions officials picking up the pieces

They believe they were victims of a Senate promise to Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy to pay back the governor and commissioners for rejecting the two largest rate increase requests in Florida history.


Son of late Gov. Chiles plans to run for governor

Lawton “Bud” Chiles III, the son of the late Gov. Lawton Chiles, said Saturday he is preparing to enter the Democratic primary for governor in part because he hasn’t heard what he wanted out of presumptive nominee Alex Sink’s campaign.


Central Florida banks see light at the end of tunnel

Twenty of Central Florida’s largest community banks lost a combined $6.3 million in first-quarter 2010, compared with a $52.2 million loss in fourth-quarter 2009.


Column: Florida Retirement System is far from broke, or broken

Florida’s pension system is probably in for some changes, and most state employees won’t consider them improvements.


Transgender GOP candidate challenges Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Donna Milo — a Cuban-American, conservative Republican, transgender woman running for Congress — says she doesn’t like labels.


Mississippi Governor Vetoes $20 Million for Wind Insurance Pool

Gov. Haley Barbour on Friday rejected a proposal to put a $20 million subsidy into a wind pool insurance fund.


NAIC to conduct survey on credit-score use in auto insurance

The NAIC said it will ask state insurance regulators around the country to poll auto insurers about how rates are created, the variables in credit-based scores and the range of premium differences among consumers based on those scores.


Study Pokes Holes in Air Bag Standards

The research suggests that when compared with the versions they replaced, the newest air bags, required in all vehicles beginning in 2008 and in some as early as 2004, may place belted drivers at greater risk of death.


Arkansas Church Awarded $43.6M in Unlicensed Insurance Case

A federal jury has awarded a Jonesboro, Ark., church $43.6 million in its lawsuit against an insurance group that wasn’t licensed or authorized to sell insurance.


New York insured get more rights in disputes over claims

Appraisals extended to policyholders

Policyholders in the state now can force insurance companies to hire an independent appraiser or adjuster to determine the value of damages if they have a dispute with their insurance carrier.


Huge BP Spill Means A High-Stakes Hurricane Season

BP’s oil spill could make for one of the highest-stakes U.S. Gulf hurricane seasons on record.


U.S. Being Bankrupted By Disasters, Professor Tells Federal Reserve

America is emerging from a deep recession caused by financial messes on Wall Street, but Dr. J. David Rogers says the Federal Reserve is still being bankrupted by natural disasters.


Sierra Club and the Heartland Institute:  Federal government must stay out of home insurance business

Most people would likely deem it fair that Americans who choose to live in vulnerable areas like hurricane-prone coasts and active earthquake faults ought to pay more for property insurance than those who live in safer areas.


North American Insurers Support Recommendations of NAIC Task Force on Accounting Standards

North American insurance and reinsurance companies support recommendations of an actuarial task force of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, including the two-model approach to accounting standards, and applauded it for countering many of the “ill-conceived conclusions” of the International Accounting Standards Board.


NAIC to conduct survey on credit-score use in auto insurance

The NAIC said it will ask state insurance regulators around the country to poll auto insurers about how rates are created, the variables in credit-based scores and the range of premium differences among consumers based on those scores. The group hopes to issue a report this year.


State Regulators Receive High Marks in Assessment of U.S. Insurance Sector

The NAIC received high marks from the International Monetary Fund’s Financial Sector Assessment Program.


NAIC Joins Other State Regulators in Support of Bi-Partisan Financial Stability Oversight Council Amendment

The NAIC expressed support this week for Senate Amendment 3754 to S. 3217, the Restoring American Financial Stability Act, that would provide for non-voting membership for state banking, insurance and securities regulators on the Financial Stability Oversight Council.


Lawmakers See Expanded Role for California Insurance Commissioner

Two state lawmakers are the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination for California insurance commissioner, the statewide office responsible for regulating insurers at a time of great change and heightened scrutiny for health care coverage.


Fitch: 2010 U.S. Life Insurance Statutory Trends May Help Return Industry Outlook to Stable

Fitch Ratings expects 2010 statutory earnings and capital trends to strengthen from 2009 levels primarily as a result of a reduction in realized investment losses.


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