Mike Colodny in The Miami Herald: New firm to cover most First Commercial Insurance policyholders

Sep 4, 2009

Published in The Miami Herald on September 4, 2009


A newly formed insurance company will offer coverage to most of the 18,000 policyholders who will lose their coverage as state regulators liquidate First Commercial Insurance and First Commercial Transportation and Property Insurance.

Miami-based Ascendant Commercial Insurance also expects to hire at least 50 percent of the 100 employees at the two First Commercial firms, said Michael Colodny, an attorney with Colodny Fass, which represented the new company.

Hialeah-based First Commercial Insurance and its wholly owned subsidiary, First Commercial Transportation, were placed in receivership in July because the firms didn’t have sufficient capital to pay claims.

They were ordered to be liquidated last week by a Leon County circuit court judge.

First Commercial, which was licensed in 1995, writes primarily workers compensation insurance, which would cover medical benefits for injured workers. It also wrote commercial property/casualty and commercial auto coverages.

The Department of Financial Services, which oversees insurance companies in receivership, helped craft the deal to create the new insurer to take on most of the First Commercial policies.

“Our department has worked diligently to ensure that many employees were offered positions with the new company and that Florida policyholders were protected,” said Alex Sink, Florida’s chief financial officer.

“Especially in these challenging times, it was important to us to save these jobs and allow for an orderly transition for consumers,” Sink said.

The capital for the company comes from the Cejas family.

Paul Cejas, who will sit on the Ascendant board, turned a once-solvent health maintenance organization in Miami into one of the largest and most profitable HMOs in Florida. It was sold to a California firm for $250 million in a stock swap in 1994.

His son, Pablo Cejas, will be running the company, which plans to concentrate on offering coverage to small and medium-size businesses.

First Commercial policyholders who will be offered coverage by Ascendant should be notified by the new company by Sept. 15. The new coverage will be effective Sept. 23 or when the current policy expires — whichever happens first.

For more information regarding the offer from Ascendant, consumers may call the company’ hot line at 305-820-4360, the CFO’s consumer help line at 850-413-3089 or toll-free at 1-877-My-FL-CFO or visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com.