THE FLORIDA INSURANCE ROUNDUP PODCAST

The Florida Insurance Roundup from Lisa Miller & Associates, is your program on the people, issues, and regulations shaping Florida’s Insurance Market. It’s the only podcast devoted exclusively to Florida insurance issues.  Lisa, a former deputy insurance commissioner, brings you the latest developments in Property & Casualty, Healthcare, Workers’ Compensation, and Surplus Lines insurance from around the Sunshine State. There is a Listener Call-In Line for your recorded questions and comments to air in future episodes at 850-388-8002 or you may send email to LisaMiller@LisaMillerAssociates.com

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Episode 11 – Driving Blockchain Home

The emerging distributed ledger software technology Blockchain, being developed for use in financial transactions, has applications in how we manage insurance information, too. It could one day be used to reduce Florida’s nearly 27% rate of uninsured drivers – the highest in the nation – while providing added convenience and money-saving efficiencies to both consumers and insurance companies. Blockchain technology is also touted as an answer to the current climate of data breaches and compromised personal information.

Host Lisa Miller, a former deputy insurance commissioner, talks with the leader of the insurance consortium applying Blockchain and a Florida State Senator who calls it the next wave in the insurance space, especially when it comes to fighting growing insurance fraud. Guests on the podcast are Christopher McDaniel, Executive Director of the RiskBlock Alliance and Senator Jeff Brandes (R-Pinellas County) who discuss what exactly Blockchain is and isn’t, how it’s currently being used, and the rapid growth opportunities this new technology represents.

Christopher McDaniel, Executive Director of the RiskBlock Alliance

State Senator Jeff Brandes (R-Pinellas County)

Show Notes:

Blockchain is a new technology that is changing how we manage insurance information. Blockchain is a distributed ledger software that uses a continuously growing list of records – known as blocks – that don’t rely on a centralized third-party vendor to administer. Instead, each party to a financial or other transaction is networked and has the original and updated versions of the transaction, which is contained on many different and anonymous blocks. By its design, it’s advertised as being highly resistant to any data modification by any single participant, once recorded.

Christopher McDaniel of the RiskBlock Alliance said that Blockchain unfortunately has been made out to be very complicated and that it really isn’t, despite lots of jargon that has confused both consumers and the insurance industry. And while Bitcoin also uses Blockchain technology for public currency exchange, he said there is no connection between the crypto-currency and the RiskBlock Alliance efforts.

“What Blockchain really brings first and foremost to the table is that the concept of transactions can go away. Transactions being anything between two parties, whether that’s the consumer and their insurance agent or whether it’s the agent and the insurance carrier,” said McDaniel on the podcast. “If you have a blockchain solution in place, everybody has ubiquitous instant access to that information.” In addition to the information being made into an un-erasable permanent record, McDaniel said Blockchain is capable of using “Smart Contracts”, which use an “if-then” logic protocol to automate activities, saving time and cutting out middlemen.

While Blockchain applications are still very new to the insurance industry, there are applications underway right now. Nationwide Insurance just implemented Blockchain for proof of insurance, simplifying verification of automobile insurance coverage in real time and eliminating the need for paper ID cards. McDaniel pointed out that right now, neither party in an auto accident really knows the other person has auto insurance. They have paper insurance cards that say they do, but that insurance may have since been cancelled, prior to the accident.

“Basically inside the mobile phone app is a plug-in, so that the two people involved in the accident can basically tap their phones together and in a matter of seconds it goes out to the Blockchain and it comes back down and says the other person has insurance and how much coverage they have,” explained McDaniel.

Florida tops the nation in the number of uninsured drivers on its roadways. The Insurance Research Council (IRC) says 26.7% of Florida drivers drive without auto insurance, according to its latest study based on 2015 data. The insurance industry puts the average cost of an uninsured motorist claim at about $20,000, excluding any vehicle damage.

The RiskBlock Alliance, which is part of The Institutes, an industry educational and research organization, has developed 30 different uses for Blockchain technology in managing insurance information. The 23 companies currently involved in the Alliance include Nationwide, USAA, and Geico. McDaniel said the number is expected to grow to nearly 60 companies by year end.

Florida State Senator Jeff Brandes (R-Pinellas County) is a believer in Blockchain’s potential, especially in the Sunshine State, and has been urging greater awareness of the technology among his fellow legislators.

“My sense is that this is the next wave in the insurance space for transactions and they (legislators) need to be able to understand and begin to find and contemplate some of the opportunities that come along with this new technology,” he shared with host Lisa Miller and McDaniel.

Brandes and McDaniel agreed that Blockchain’s proof of insurance capability could be expanded to proof of driver licenses, which would assist law enforcement and Florida’s Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to identify people who shouldn’t be driving. Brandes said that seems like an area where some legislative authority would be required to pursue.

“One of the big opportunities that Blockchain brings is the ability to reduce fraud. To the extent that we can have all the other services and reduce fraud, I think you’re going to see a variety of businesses begin to use it. Many of them won’t even know they’re using Blockchain technology – it’ll just be the new way to do business,” said Senator Brandes.

Not only are insurance companies starting to use Blockchain, but they’re introducing it to their policyholders’ businesses, too. McDaniel’s pointed to two sectors – energy and trucking transportation – as examples.

“All the pieces and parts that they have need to be insured. We’re bringing efficiencies to them through the Blockchain. A version of our proof of insurance solution for commercial trucking is reducing the current 30-minute manual process at depots…down to less than 30-seconds to prove insurance coverage. That one check, with just one trucking logistics company, happens 200,000 times a day,” McDaniel said.

“I think the exciting thing is that we’re seeing rapid adoption of this technology, largely because it drives value for insurers,” added Senator Brandes. “These insurance companies are very focused on reducing fraud. Obviously they see that as a negative piece to their rate base and so the opportunity for them to speed along transactions, close things out quickly, and the idea of automatic transactions, I think really appeals to them and all are strong reasons why you’re seeing large insurers begin to make this shift over. And I think over time, that’s only going to continue.”

Blockchain provides a unique set of data from which you can then apply analytics to ferret out fraud right from the beginning and put a stop to it in a more comprehensive way than previously available.

The other big consumer benefit to Blockchain technology is data security for its users. McDaniel said the RiskBlock Alliance is looking closely at adopting the GDPR Rule, a European standard on information privacy and ownership, anticipating it will one day be the rule in the United States.

“Everybody’s seen all the stuff in the news lately about Facebook. It really centers around the customer’s safety of their data, their right to control their data, and the right to be forgotten. We’re going to that level here right from the beginning in what we’ve built,” McDaniel said.

On the podcast, McDaniel also shares the RiskBlock Alliance’s efforts to partner with the B3i, a European effort on the use of Blockchain technology in reinsurance.

Host Lisa Miller noted that Blockchain represents an opportunity to bring insurance innovators together with public policy innovators to collaborate on creating new and better insurance products and services for the marketplace. And what better place to do so than here in Florida? She said that Blockchain could also help regulate our new medical marijuana industry here in Florida. “There are exciting times indeed to look at technology that can help us work smarter – not harder – while providing enhanced consumer value and protection,” said Miller.

Links and Resources Referenced in this Episode:

Episode 10 – Modeling for School Shootings

The aftermath of the Parkland, Florida school shooting and other major casualty events can greatly impact the insurance companies that provide liability policies to schools, hotels, and other venues. While these policies traditionally cover a variety of more ordinary events, some policies never contemplated – and priced the risk for – the increasingly unusual catastrophic events seen over the last few years. Now there are new tools to help insurers and their reinsurers better calculate previously difficult and unmanageable risks, leading to better coverage for these venues and ultimately those they serve.

Host Lisa Miller talks with Robin Wilkinson, Vice President and Managing Director of Casualty Analytics at AIR Worldwide, a Verisk company, about its new scenario-based Casualty Risk Modeling. Ms. Wilkinson explains how the modeling works with mass casualty events, how it’s helping insurers and reinsurers better rate the risk of both sudden and systemic events, and the types of scenarios the model is being applied to currently.

Robin Wilkinson, Vice President and Managing Director of Casualty Analytics at AIR Worldwide

Show Notes:
In the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, there are a myriad of civil lawsuits against the school district and other organizations and individuals that insurance companies will now be involved in defending.  How do insurers contemplate such a horrendous event?  And from an insurance perspective, how can they really rate the risk of such an event?  The answer is they can’t – at least not well enough in today’s increasingly unpredictable environment.

Scenario-based casualty risk modeling can be used to calculate the commercial liability losses from extreme events, such as mass shootings, and in a variety of venues.  Such recent events include the Parkland, Florida school shooting, the MGM Grand Hotel Las Vegas massacre, the 2016 Bastille Day attacks in France, and the 2013 Boston Marathon.  Most scenarios impact more than one insurance line.

“We first try to understand the event, then ask – and determine – how much loss is likely to be an insured loss in that portfolio,” Robin Wilkinson, Vice President and Managing Director of Casualty Analytics at AIR Worldwide explains to host Lisa Miller.  “You’re reducing the problem from saying ‘Wow, how big could this event be?’ to ‘How much of that loss is likely to be in my portfolio?’”

This modeling tool helps venues consider the footprint or potential spread of an event, by simulating losses to a portfolio.  Liability is assessed on products and services along the supply chain utilizing a variety of information.  Insurers and reinsurers then overlay their portfolio to calculate aggregate exposure to the event, with losses cascaded down from the industry level, to the company level, and then down to individual policies.

While new modeling and technology have been a game-changer on the property insurance side, casualty modeling is more difficult and uncertain, explains Ms. Wilkinson.  “Casualty catastrophe modeling uses an economic, rather than a geographic framework, to provide the proximity and explain why various policies may be caught up in the same event,” she said.  The other challenge, Wilkinson shares, is that the future might not necessarily resemble the past, because of changing technology, regulation, and even social mores.   “It gives us essentially the casualty equivalent of a regional peril model for property.”

AIR Worldwide is modeling both “sudden trigger” and “systemic” events.  Florida has seen a lot of both over the years.  Sudden trigger events are those that happen at one time and in one place, such as the Parkland school shooting, the recent FIU pedestrian bridge collapse, and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Systemic events, while arising out of a single trigger, occur over time and involve more parties.  The contaminated Chinese drywall issue in Florida in the 1990’s, asbestos contamination, opioid abuse, and even the Bernie Madoff financial swindle are all examples.

In the aftermath of the February 2018 Parkland school shooting, the Florida legislature passed the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act” to improve campus safety through best practices.   Wilkinson said the law could impact liability in future similar situations, by setting a new bar for school performance.  Failure to comply with new standards might make schools more vulnerable to lawsuits.

“So instead of focusing on the shooter or perpetrator (the seeming trend now is) to look at how those events are being managed and how those venues are being managed.  This trend could result in liability insurers paying-out for losses that might be insured or uninsured losses…and where the insurers haven’t really contemplated or quantified their potential exposure,” Wilkinson said.

Host Lisa Miller noted that casualty risk modeling is the latest innovation in insurance – taking an existing product or method and developing a new way of looking at it, with new tools.  Miller, a former Florida Deputy Insurance Commissioner, discussed how better data enables better prediction and ultimate outcome.  “Enhanced modeling is improving the way insurers rate risk.  More accurate pricing of risk benefits insurance interests and consumers.  It’s also providing opportunities for new markets of enhanced insurance products,” said Miller.

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Episode 9 – The AOB Trap

Fort Myers retiree Sandra Carlstrom suffered extensive water damage to her home when Hurricane Irma’s 115 mph winds and flying debris left holes in her roof and outside trim. But a second – and more threatening – round of damage would occur a week later, when she received a glossy flyer in her mailbox from a contractor offering to perform a free roof inspection and repair all the damage. Three months later, no repairs have been made and worse, she’s been threatened with a lawsuit and lien on her house by the contractor – all because of an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) contract she signed with him.

Host Lisa Miller, a former Florida deputy insurance commissioner, talks with Sandra Carlstrom and her daughter Kirsten about how a loose temporary roof tarp unraveled a tale of deception and the utter panic they’ve been in since discovering the $191,000 bill sent to their insurance company for a roof replacement that should only cost $30,000. Despite a growing number of such AOB abuse cases around the state that Miller describes as almost extortion, the Florida legislature continues to be stymied on the eve of its 2018 session in passing meaningful reform to help consumers avoid “The AOB Trap.”

Front of flier

Front of flier

Back of flier

Back of flier

Show Notes:

Describing it as a “nightmare” that’s lasted months, Sandra Carlstrom said she hasn’t been able to get her home repaired because she needs to sever the Assignment of Benefits (AOB) contract with her previous contractor before she can engage someone else to repair the damage to her roof, facia board, and inside rooms caused by Hurricane Irma’s heavy winds and rain. If not for her daughter Kirsten, a skilled Realtor® who added contingency clauses to the AOB requiring their insurance company to approve all repairs, Sandra said she would have lost all of her rights and potentially face a financial disaster from having to pay for her own repairs.

Kirsten said the first sign of trouble was when the contractor refused to answer questions and told them not to talk to their own insurance company. Upon further research, she discovered the contractor was running his business from a UPS Store post office box on the other side of the state. Although the contractor seemed very knowledgeable and claimed to know (and play golf with) the head of their insurance company, a month went by with no repairs. Suspicious, Sandra and Kirsten contacted their insurer and discovered the contractor was attempting to bill $191,000 for what should have been a $30,000 roof.

When they tried to cancel the AOB, Kirsten said the contractor refused to do so and threatened with his lawyer to put a lien on the house. If they wanted out of the AOB, there were told they’d need to pay him $15,000 for the temporary roof tarp he’d installed and his research time. “He threatened us and coerced us and involved his attorney, who threated to sue us,” said Kirsten.

Carlstrom Roof Damage

Carlstrom Inside Damge

Investigator with the Florida Attorney General’s office are now on the case as Sandra Carlstrom continues her efforts to get out of the AOB and “The AOB Trap” that’s held her captive for three-and-a-half months. “Absolutely never sign an AOB contract,” she warns others.

Host Lisa Miller, referring to the Carlstrom case as “almost extortion”, notes that by any measure, AOB abuse in Florida is an explosive epidemic:
• Frequency of Claims involving an AOB (up 46% from 2010-2016);
• Severity of Claims involving an AOB (up 28% from 2010-2016); and
• Number of AOB lawsuits (from 405 lawsuits in 2006 to 28,200 in 2016) are all on the rise.

Increased costs equal increased rates by insurance companies, with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation warning that annual 10% rate increases on homeowners insurance policies in Florida could become the norm.

The Florida legislature, which begins its 2018 session on January 9, is attempting for the fifth year in a row to pass meaningful AOB reform for Florida consumers. The Florida House of Representatives has HB 7015 all ready for a full vote of its members. The bill addresses AOB abuses and enhances consumer/policyholder protections. The Florida Senate, which is where past reform bills have died, late in 2017 introduced SB 1168. It joins several other Senate bills.

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

  • Lisa’s Tips on Avoiding the AOB Trap:
    1) Don’t answer your door after a calamity. There’s an old saying that “People you know come to your back door, people you don’t know come to your front door.” Those you don’t know, don’t always have your best interest.
    2) Don’t sign anything until you speak with your insurance company. And if you see the words “Assignment of Benefits” or “AOB” on your document, don’t sign it until you speak with your trusted insurance agent or insurance company directly.
  • Another Day, Another DCA Decision (from the Lisa Miller & Associates Newsletter of 12/11/2017)
  • Assignment of Benefits Resources & Consumer Alerts (from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation)
  • Florida Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights  (From the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation)

** The Listener Call-In Line for your recorded questions and comments to air in future episodes is 850-388-8002 or you may send email to LisaMiller@LisaMillerAssociates.com **

Episode 8 – National Flood Insurance Reform

Congress is pushing into 2018 a decision on how to reform the beleaguered National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that 1.8 million Floridians depend on for their property flood protection. Congress must reauthorize the program as well, because without it, federally-backed home mortgages which require flood coverage for high-risk zoned properties could come to a standstill. But the taxpayer-subsidized NFIP is $25 billion in debt and still using old flood data and maps, with rates that don’t match risk.  Congress is considering reauthorization under a package of reform bills called the 21st Century Flood Reform Act.

Host Lisa Miller, a former Florida deputy insurance commissioner, explores two of those key reforms on this program: what to do with grandfathered properties that are still enjoying 1960’s-era premiums and riddled with repetitive losses, and how best to encourage private flood insurance market alternatives. It’s estimated that 77% of Florida properties would see lower premiums with private market policies.  Joining Lisa are guests Brian Squire, Managing Executive Senior Vice President at Hays Companies in Destin, Florida and Helen Devlin, Senior Lobbyist with the National Association of Realtors in Washington D.C.  Together, they outline what’s at stake for Florida NFIP policyholders and ideas on how best to balance flood insurance affordability with NFIP sustainability, without hurting Florida’s growing real estate market.

Brian Squire, Managing Executive Senior Vice President at Hays Companies

Helen Devlin, Senior Lobbyist with the National Association of Realtors

Show Notes:

The bill passed by the U.S. House would strip grandfathered NFIP rates after two future claims, with rates then rising 10% per year until hitting the current risk-rate. A third claim would raise rates 15% per year. The podcast discusses how this is meant to relieve some of the financial burden to the heavily subsidized federal government program, while providing greater cost accountability and sharing with those properties that continually have losses and keep getting rebuilt or repaired, only to have sometimes identical losses re-occur during the next event.

Brian Squire said the key to a more sustainable NFIP and one that encourages private flood insurance alternatives is to change the grandfathering provisions so current recipients can have safe harbor to move into the private market and move back into the NFIP without losing benefits, should the private market not work for them. He noted it’s also important that private insurance companies be properly vetted and with state regulation to provide needed consumer confidence to make the switch.

Helen Devlin noted it’s important to have a private market compliment to NFIP and that the National Association of Realtors has been working for years with Congress to make improvements necessary to safeguard property owners. Allowing portability of grandfathered benefits and more insurance options for consumers are key.   She also noted the rates charged versus true risk “are out of whack” and that better utilizing improved modeling technology and other advances will create better coverage for more people without “sticker shock” premiums.

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

** The Listener Call-In Line for your recorded questions and comments to air in future episodes is 850-388-8002 or you may send email to LisaMiller@LisaMillerAssociates.com**

Episode 7 – Irma’s Claims Challenge

Florida homeowners, businesses, and other property owners have been assessing the damage from Hurricane Irma and begun filing claims with their insurance companies. Those claims are expected to number in the hundreds of thousands from the first major hurricane to hit Florida in 12 years.  How are insurance companies responding?  How will they be able to meet the challenges of such an onslaught of claims?

Joining host Lisa Miller from the road are the president of American Integrity Insurance Company in Tampa, Bob Ritchie and professional claims adjuster Jason Evans, CEO of Evans Claims Service, in Huntsville, Texas.  They explain on this podcast how claims are being handled, why Hurricane Irma has stressed the supply of adjusters needed to handle them, and the ability of Florida’s insurance companies to pay claims.  They also share advice with policyholders and other consumers hit by damage and reveal how insurance industry best practices are being put to the ultimate test with Irma.

Bob Ritchie, President & CEO, American Integrity Insurance Company

Jason Evans, CEO of Evans Claims Service

Show Notes:

“There is no question that the industry has not been better capitalized, both in terms of the primary insurance carriers, but also the supporting carriers, including the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, Citizens Property Insurance, and the world’s reinsurers,” Ritchie said on the podcast.  He noted that because the hurricane weakened in the hours before landfill, “this is a high-frequency, high number of claims, and much lower severity, much lower total incurred losses event than what it would have been if it had stayed on the west coast and scraped the entire coast.  What makes Irma different is that the entire peninsula was faced with a direct hit,” Ritchie said.   He believes damage estimates in the range of $25 billion are accurate.

“Florida is much more a wind and water event than Hurricane Harvey, which was predominantly a flood event” said Evans, whose adjuster teams have worked Harvey claims and are now in Florida assessing Irma claims.  Evans said Irma has stressed the supply of adjusters to handle claims, especially coming so soon after Hurricane Harvey, but that there are enough adjusters to handle the volume of claims.  “When you have two storms of this magnitude, it stresses the supply of adjusters undoubtedly…but you have companies emergency licensing adjusters and bringing in additional people to settle these claims…we’ll get ahead of it and get everyone’s claim taken care of in a timely fashion.”

The program discusses the technological advances that are making the claims process easier and efficient for both policyholders and insurance companies.  “But nothing replaces the tender loving care at the first notice of loss,” Ritchie pointed out.  “It’s a people business.  When you have a crisis, people want to talk to a live person.  Where technology is important is that everyone is equipped to take the first notice of loss within a few minutes and to reassure the customer that they have coverage.  You have one chance to form the right first opinion.”

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

** The Listener Call-In Line for your recorded questions and comments to air in future episodes is 850-388-8002 or you may send email to LisaMiller@LisaMillerAssociates.com**

Episode 6 – Citizens Managed Repair Program

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation recently approved two first-of-their-kind programs designed to help the state’s property insurer of last resort – Citizens Property Insurance Corporation – control the rapidly rising claims and litigation costs among its current 450,000 policyholders. Citizens will now be able to limit coverage on non-weather water claims to $10,000 unless the policyholder agrees to use Citizens’ approved contractors in its new managed repair program.  The company can also waive deductibles on such claims as a further incentive for its policyholders to use the managed repair program.

Citizens President & CEO Barry Gilway sat down with host and former deputy insurance commissioner Lisa Miller on the eve of last week’s OIR decision to outline the reasoning behind the program and the reforms still needed in Florida’s property and casualty insurance marketplace.  Also joining Lisa on the podcast is Cam Fentriss, Legislative Counsel for the Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association.  She and Gilway found common ground on some key Assignment of Benefit concerns whose costs, Citizens says, is driving its requested statewide average 6.7% homeowners policy hike and an 8.1% commercial lines increase.

Barry Gilway, President & CEO, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation

Cam Fentriss, Legislative Counsel, Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association

Show Notes:

“We’re not going to solve the problems until we get legislative reform on the Assignment of Benefits issue to curb some of this ridiculous litigation that is taking place,” Gilway said on the podcast.

Citizens is slated to lose $85 million this year because of the exponential growth in non-weather related water losses, such as leaking pipes, and isn’t the only insurance company suffering such losses in Florida.  The insurance industry has warned for the past five years about increased use of Assignment of Benefits by contractors who submit inflated claims on all sorts of work and then file lawsuits if insurers deny or underpay the claims.

“The Office of Insurance Regulation and Citizens Insurance have acted where the legislature has so far failed to act, to bring measures of responsibility and accountability to an out of control Assignment of Benefits system that is causing double-digit property insurance rate increases on Floridians,” said host Miller afterward.  She predicts that other insurance companies will now seek the same newly approved coverage cap from OIR.

OIR also approved Citizens’ requested policy changes that will now require contractors to submit damage reports and repair estimates, participate in appraisals by Citizens’ adjusters, and answer questions under oath.

“We understand the need for managed repair programs because we know there are abuses out there…so long as they’re done in a way that the contractors in the program are determined on an objective basis, we’re comfortable with that,” said Fentriss.

This Wednesday (August 23, 2017), Citizens will face some of its policyholders at a public hearing being held by OIR in the heart of “AOB Abuse Alley”: Miami-Dade County.  There, Citizens’ proposed rates would go up by the maximum 10% for the second year in a row.  It says AOB costs are behind its requested statewide average 6.7% homeowners policy hike and an 8.1% commercial lines increase.

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

** The Listener Call-In Line for your recorded questions and comments to air in future episodes is 850-388-8002 or you may send email to LisaMiller@LisaMillerAssociates.com **

Episode 5 Part Two – Growing Florida’s Private Flood Market

Aided by new state legislation this year designed to encourage a robust private flood insurance market in Florida, the number of companies writing flood policies has nearly doubled in the last year, while Congress works this summer to reform the federal government’s beleaguered National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Meanwhile, new technology is making structures more resilient than ever to floodwaters, allowing those insurers to more accurately price risk and compete with the NFIP.

Mike Graham of Smart Vent Products has been working with modeling firms that are part of the new technology and shares with Lisa in this program how flood vents, dry proofing, and other mitigation options are lowering flood risks and with them,  policy premiums by up to 80%.  Just as wind mitigation years ago helped lower homeowners and wind insurance rates, today’s flood mitigation techniques can lower private flood insurance rates, making flood coverage more affordable – and available – for everyone.

Show Notes

Actuarial experts, disaster modelers, and third-party vendors are utilizing new technology to better predict and price flood risk.  Models are important because the NFIP and parent FEMA don’t use models – they use only maps.  But models help differentiate the flood risk between a property owner in Zone X with mitigation vs. another person in Zone X without mitigation – with premiums priced accordingly by the growing number of private flood insurers entering the marketplace.

Mike Graham of Smart Vent Products shares his experience on some of the newest mitigation technologies and practices, including vents that allow flood waters to wash into – and back out of – structures, minimizing damage.  A study of a two-square mile area in New Jersey that suffered $1.2 million in flood claims losses showed through modeling how pre-mitigation would have eliminated the structural damage and reduced the entire area’s flood height by one inch, which while it doesn’t sound like much, equates to a $20,000 cost avoidance per claim according to FEMA.  Mitigation measures also help eliminate the need for retention ponds.  FEMA estimates that for every $1 spent on pre-event mitigation, $4 is saved in insurance claims.

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode

** The Listener Call-In Line for your recorded questions and comments to air in future episodes is 850-388-8002 or you may send email to LisaMiller@LisaMillerAssociates.com**

Episode 5 Part One – Growing Florida’s Private Flood Market

Just in time for the start of hurricane season, the Florida Legislature has made it even easier for private insurance companies to write flood coverage in the Sunshine State.  The private market is seen as a much-needed alternative to the debt-ridden, increasingly expensive, federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).   Even more so for Florida consumers, who are largely subsidizing the program, receiving just $1 in claims benefits for every $4 paid in premiums.

Host Lisa Miller, a former Florida deputy insurance commissioner, breaks down how private carriers are being encouraged and we hear state Senator Jeff Brandes’ ideas on how Florida’s private market can work hand-in-hand with the NFIP.  With less than 90 days remaining until the beleaguered NFIP expires, the U.S. House is making progress toward a series of reforms designed to tackle the programs $24.6 billion in debt and improve access and affordability for homeowners.  One fix would expand mandatory flood insurance to most U.S. homeowners – just like the Affordable Care Act on the health insurance side – to subsidize the NFIP going forward.

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

The Listener Call-In Line for your recorded questions and comments to air in future episodes is 850-388-8002 or you may send email to LisaMiller@LisaMillerAssociates.com

Episode 4 – Legislative Session Roundup

The Florida Legislature ended its 2017 session this week three days late – and without passing most of the major insurance-related bills.  These include Assignment of Benefits reform, Workers’ Compensation reform as mandated by the state Supreme Court, and No-Fault Personal Injury Protection automobile insurance reform.  What went wrong?  Host Lisa Miller, a former Florida deputy insurance commissioner, takes the guest microphone in this program to explain what happened, share the backstory on some of the negotiations, and offer her insight on what’s needed to make these policy reforms a reality in next year’s legislative session.

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Episode 3 – Bad Faith

The Florida Legislature is once again trying to decide what to do with the state’s 45 year-old No-Fault Automobile Insurance coverage law – more specifically, how to handle the persistent fraud that keeps increasing and with it, automobile insurance rates.  But one component that’s rarely talked about is the Bad Faith doctrine – and the third-party vendors some say who are manipulating it to win bigger legal settlements from insurance companies.

David Bronstein and J.D. Underwood – two noted South Florida insurance attorneys on opposite sides of the issue – argue the merits of Bad Faith as it relates to consumer rights and insurance company profits.  They reveal in this program how just the threat of a Bad Faith case and its related costs are driving up premiums for all Florida insurance consumers.  They share their insider perspective on how those looking to make a bigger buck rather than a reasonable claims settlement are hurting the availability and affordability of automobile, as well as homeowners insurance in Florida.

As the legislature considers bills replacing No-Fault PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance with mandatory Bodily Injury insurance (BI) – where Bad Faith claims are more prevalent than PIP claims and can result in large verdicts beyond the policy coverage limits –  insurance companies want added provisions to require mandatory civil remedy notice by third-party claimants to level the playing field.

David Bronstein

David Bronstein of Bronstein & Carmona

J. D. Underwood

J.D. Underwood of Florida Advocates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Episode 2 – The Abusive Roofer

They come to your house peddling offers of a free roof, courtesy of your insurance company.  Regardless of whether you’ve suffered serious enough storm damage to warrant a total roof replacement, these scam artists have you sign an “AOB”– an Assignment of Benefits – that takes away your rights and benefits of insurance claims proceeds and puts it into their pockets.  That’s what happened to Kellie Clark, a ninth-grade math teacher in Pinellas County, Florida.  Ms. Clark shares her story of being misled into signing an AOB and then becoming the target of bullying and harassment – including threats of foreclosure action – when she refused to sign over the insurance check.   It’s a growing problem in Florida that has caused double-digit rate increases and whose solution is still eluding the Florida Legislature.

Kellie Clark

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Kellie Clark Timeline of AOB with Simbro Group

Simbro Group Letter of AOB

 

 

 

 

Episode 1 – Beating Back Flood Rates

Although Florida accounts for nearly 40% of the National Flood Insurance Program policies, it remains a huge donor state to this federal monopoly, with property owners here paying $4 in premiums for every $1 in claims received. Maria Wells, President of Florida Realtors, has been a driving force behind efforts to encourage a private flood market in the Sunshine State. Ms. Wells shares her advocacy efforts in this podcast and how reauthorization of NFIP this year in Congress is being linked to further incentives to create a robust private market alternative that will benefit property owners and taxpayers alike.