News Release: Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Recommends Investigation of The Hartford Business Practices
May 26, 2010
The Office of the Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate issued the following news release on May 26, 2010:
TALLAHASSEE— Citing specific circumstances of questionable claims denials, Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate Sean Shaw today sent a petition to the Office of Insurance Regulation requesting an investigation into The Hartford’s use of video surveillance when denying disability benefits.
“We have been informed of multiple cases in which consumers felt their benefits were unfairly denied by The Hartford, and I believe we need to specifically address the use of video surveillance as it is the common thread in these complaints,” said ICA Shaw. “The Office of Insurance Regulation is the agency charged with investigating insurance companies, and I am asking that they use their authority to investigate any potential wrongdoing on behalf of Florida’s insurance consumers.”
After the Department of Financial Services received several complaints from citizens regarding the termination of disability benefits by The Hartford Life & Accident Insurance Company, the Office of the Insurance Consumer Advocate began an analysis of The Hartford’s denial procedures. In several cases, The Hartford hired a private investigator to film consumers performing daily tasks.
Based on the video surveillance, The Hartford terminated each of the consumers’ disability insurance benefits despite medical testimony that each of the consumers was disabled. ICA Shaw filed the petition due to his belief that the circumstances in each complaint may constitute a violation of Florida law. The Insurance Consumer Advocate’s petition asks the Office of Insurance Regulation to investigate The Hartford for violating Florida’s unfair claim settlement practice laws.
If OIR takes action, Florida would join several other states, including Texas, California and Arkansas, in investigating inappropriate denial of benefits in similar circumstances to determine whether The Hartford’s business practices violated state insurance laws.
The Insurance Consumer Advocate has filed this petition pursuant to section 627.0613 Florida Statutes which states: “The Chief Financial Officer must appoint a consumer advocate who must represent the general public of the state before the department [Department of Financial Services] and the Office [Office of Insurance Regulation]…The consumer advocate has such powers as are necessary to carry out the duties of the office of consumer advocate including but not limited to: (1) Recommend to the department of office, by petition, the commencement of any proceeding or action….”
The Insurance Consumer Advocate is appointed by Florida CFO Alex Sink and is committed to finding solutions to insurance issues facing Floridians, calling attention to questionable insurance practices, promoting a viable insurance market responsive to the needs of Florida’s diverse population and assuring that rates are fair and justified.