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'This sends a very strong message:' Homeowners insurance company in Florida fined $1M

'This is the second largest fine ever incurred by an insurance company related to the claims process,' Mark Friedlander says
Posted at 4:20 PM, May 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-10 16:34:56-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Florida regulators issued a $1 million fine to one of the state's largest homeowners insurance companies on Thursday due to how it dealt with claims after Hurricane Ian, making this the second largest fine in the industry in Florida.

On Thursday, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation fined Tampa-based Heritage Insurance $1 million for allegedly being slow to pay claims, using adjusters without the proper license and keeping poor records.

"What we're seeing with this action taken by Florida's insurance commissioner is insurers will be held accountable for not following state regulations," Mark Friedlander, director of corporate communications for the Insurance Information Institute, said.

Friedlander said in the insurance world in Florida, this type of fine is almost unheard of.

Mark Friedlander director of corporate communications for the Insurance Information Institute May 10 2024 .png
Mark Friedlander says this latest fine sends a strong message to both policyholders and insurers.

"This is the second largest fine ever incurred by an insurance company related to the claims process," Friedlander said.

The last fine of this magnitude in Florida was in 2013, when the Fort Lauderdale-based company Universal Property and Casualty Insurance was fined $1.26 million for allegedly wrongly denying claims and canceling policies without adequate notice, among other legal violations.

Looking nationwide, according to the Insurance Journal, back in 2010, Allstate paid $10 million to 45 states in regulatory fines involving the company's claims handling process.

In 2015, Nationwide paid $8 million in fines to the SEC for allegedly violating pricing rules.

Universal Property and Casualty Insurance was fined 126 million fine back in 2013 .png
The last fine of this magnitude in Florida was in 2013, when the Fort Lauderdale-based company Universal Property and Casualty Insurance was fined $1.26 million.

"We see fines in other states very regularly. We haven't seen this play out much in Florida, but the new insurance commissioner, who's been on the job a little more than a year now, made it very clear," Friedlander said. "He will hold insurers accountable and will protect the rights of policy holders."

Friedlander said this latest fine sends a strong message to both policyholders and insurers.

"This sends a very strong message to policyholders throughout Florida that the insurance regulator has your back and it sends a very important message to insurance carriers in the state that you must follow the regulations when it comes to processing claims," Friedlander said. "You will be held accountable if not."