Senate prepared for insurance tribunal

Jan 22, 2008

Senate prepares for insurance tribunal

By Jim Ash
Florida Capital Bureau Chief

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Senate warms up its property insurance
tribunal today, hearing from the Office of Insurance Regulation and national
consumer advocate J. Robert Hunter.

he background presentation, scheduled for over two hours, lays the
ground for the special Senate committee next month to call insurance
company executives to testify. Co-chairs Jeff Atwater and Steve Geller
have invited companies like Allstate, but not State Farm, to appear Feb.
4-6 to explain why they did not seek to lower rates following a $12
billion expansion in state hurricane backing.

Hunter, a former Texas insurance commissioner, is the insurance
expert for the Consumer Federation of America, which accuses insurers of
pocketing huge profits at the expense of consumers.

The background session takes place at the same time that the Office
of Insurance Regulation has said it expects to tell a state appeals
court why it was justified last week in pulling the plug on Allstate’s
ability to sell insurance in Florida. Until then, the state’s punitive
order, issued because Allstate refused to turn over records, remains on ice.