State Shuts Down Insurance Company

Tens of Thousands Need new coverage

State regulators recently shut down an insurance company that wrote tens of thousands of policies across the state.

Now, all of those policyholders are left scrambling trying to find new providers, even as a storm is brewing in the Gulf of Mexico.

They have just over two weeks to find new insurance before their policies lapse.

Florida Specialty Insurance Co. offered property insurance for homeowners and renters as well as for mobile homes, but state regulators say the company’s financial records violated state law.

Some consumers say they are bearing the brunt.

Claudia Zuco has owned her Kissimmee home for 30 years, and she says she never had a problem with her insurance until now.

"I know like most Americans, I'm one paycheck away from disaster and ruin," she said.

Zuco is like 90,000 other Floridians who in early October were sent a notice that FSIC was ordered liquidated, and coverage will be canceled on Nov. 1 for all policyholders, according to the notices.

The company was in an "unsound financial condition," according to court documents.

It had roughly $44 million in assets and $45 million in liabilities, according to court records.

The company's surplus fell below the $10 million minimum required by law, and it continued to accept and renew policies "when they knew they were insolvent and in violation of Florida law," according to records.

"I feel it's a crime.
I feel it's a type of insurance scheme, a Ponzi scheme if you will," Zuco said.

Attorney Steven Kramer says there could be some unintended consequences for policyholders.

"We rely on these companies to be strong, so that when disaster strikes people are protected and they don't lose everything," Kramer said.

"There are going to be some people that as a result of getting this insurance canceled, they are actually going to end up in default on their mortgage and they’re going to potentially wind up in foreclosure," he said.

That is a concern for Zuco.

She says her mortgage company recently paid FSIC the annual premium of $1,800.

She says she has gotten no indication from FSIC that the money will be refunded, and now she owes it back to the mortgage company.

"My mortgage company could foreclose, since I'm $1,800 in arrears," she said. 

”Every time I call, the first thing I hear is 'this is an attempt to collect a debt.' That's their first priority," she said. "And God forbid there's a storm; nobody writes a policy -- nobody," she said.

The state of Florida has notified all FSIC policyholders that if they cannot find insurance, Citizens Insurance is available.

Citizens Insurance was established by the state in 2002.


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