Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced on Tuesday that his department would look into complaints against Farmers Insurance, which is set to exit Florida’s insurance market.
Patronis issued a statement on the news over Farmers Insurance planning to shut down 30% of its business in Florida, which could impact 100,000 policyholders, a release from his office states.
The CFO posted to social media about the issue, saying that he and his team are looking to hold the company “accountable” for its actions.
I’ve always said that when big decisions are made on insurance the policyholder is rarely in the room; unfortunately @WeAreFarmers proved me right. I’ve asked my team to put their heads together in holding Farmers Insurance accountable. I want additional scrutiny on this company. pic.twitter.com/fDgadXndfx— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) July 12, 2023
“I want additional scrutiny on this company. Therefore, I have directed my Division of Consumer Services to conduct a deeper dive into Farmers Insurance complaints — and if those complaints hit a certain threshold, it will trigger market conduct investigation that could lead to fines being levied against the carrier,” Patronis’ statement reads.
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Patronis said that if Farmers Insurance cancels any policies, all prorated amounts must be returned to policyholders. He added that his team is working with the Florida Association of Insurance Agents to explore methods for a “bulk transfer of policies.”
“Company leadership needs to get ready because my guess is they’re about to get hauled before the Legislature to answer for their actions when the next legislative session begins,” Patronis said. “The more we learn about Farmers Insurance, the more it’s clear its leadership doesn’t know what they’re doing. While they’re bad at helping people, they’re good at virtue signaling.”
Patronis also criticized Farmers Insurance for its use of ESG — environmental, social and governance — policies, which he said detracted from the company’s focus on Florida’s policyholders.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and many other state leaders have come out against ESG policies, pointing out that those policies don’t always align with shareholders’ financial interests. Because of that, groups like employees and customers may end up bearing the consequences of those policies, officials argue.
“They were playing politics and weren’t focused on running a successful company. I sincerely believe that with today’s actions, Farmers Insurance is well on its way to becoming the Bud Light of insurance,” he said.
In addition, Patronis said that laws passed during a special session last year on insurance issues have helped to mitigate litigation against insurance companies, which could help to cut costs to those companies in Florida.
“The Legislature did impactful work to help stabilize the market, and Farmers Insurance actions are less a representation of the Florida market — and more of bad leadership at the insurer,” Patronis said.
He invited officials from Farmers Insurance to reach out to his office to discuss the issue further.
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