State asks appeals court to reinstate Allstate suspension

Jan 24, 2008

Herald Tribune, January 23, 2008

State asks appeals court to reinstate Allstate suspension


State attorneys tried Wednesday to reinstate a suspension that would keep Allstate’s 10 insurance companies from writing new policies in Florida.

Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty suspended Allstate last week after it refused to turn over documents sought by the state. Regulators want company executives to explain why it hadn’t reduced rates enough after last year’s passage of a bill designed to lower premiums.

The court Friday allowed Allstate to keep selling insurance in Florida while the company appeals the state’s order barring it from writing new business.

Allstate released thousands of pages of new documents to regulators Wednesday, including the so-called McKinsey documents which concern auto insurance, company spokesman Adam Shores said.

Regulators want to see some of the pricing strategy considered by Allstate. The company has been reluctant to release the documents.

"Florida consumers deserve to know what is in the documents that Allstate is so aggressively guarding and my office is determined to get them," McCarty said Wednesday after the 12-page appeal was filed with the 1st District Court of Appeal.

Regulators said Allstate’s failure to provide the documents is a willful violation of Florida statutes and "a continuing attempt by (Allstate) to improperly subvert, manipulate and undermine the regulatory process."

If reinstated, the suspension would apply to all types of insurance sold by Allstate’s 10 insurance companies doing business in the state, but does not affect existing policy owners.

"From our perspective this does not change the fact that our agencies are open for business and our agents across the state have the opportunity to share our array of products and services to protect customers," Shores said.

In January 2007, lawmakers made available cheaper state reinsurance to alleviate the need for insurers to buy so much private reinsurance so the savings could be passed along to customers. However, many companies, including Allstate, have instead sought higher rates.