Florida Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday called for the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to hire a full-time Inspector General and submit to an ongoing third-party review of the policies it sells. Scott said Floridians need to be reassured that past missteps do not repeat themselves at the agency, which has grown from an insurer of last resort to the largest property insurer in the state. “We cannot have mismanagement,” Scott said after a cabinet meeting. “It is a state-organized entity, and the citizens of Florida are on the hook for any damages that Citizens can’t pay for.”
Citizens officials say they have yet to see a detailed proposal from the Governor’s Office, but say they will take all steps necessary to restore trust in the insurer that now covers nearly 1.5 million policyholders in some of the state’s most hurricane-prone regions. “Although we cannot comment on legislative proposals we have not seen, we certainly welcome any discussion of ideas for strengthening our current oversight procedures,” Christine Ashburn, Citizens’ director of legislative and external affairs, said in a statement Tuesday. Scott already has ordered his Inspector General to look into travel expenses paid to Citizens employees during recent trips abroad. He’s also asked his Inspector General to look into the firings of four employees and the dissolution of the Office of Corporate Integrity earlier this year.
Citizens President and CEO Barry Gilway, who took over after the questionable travel occurred, has defended the travel expenses, but instituted new policies for both domestic and international travel. Gilway has acknowledged that he erred by shutting down the corporate integrity office before hiring replacement auditors, as the company reorganized its internal audit structure to more closely mirror industry practices. Along with a full-time Inspector General, a relatively common position in most government agencies, Scott said he wants the company to secure the services of a third-party enforcement officer to ensure the company is maintaining its focus on insuring those customers who can’t find insurance elsewhere.
“We need to make sure that the policies they are issuing are policies that are issued based on what the existing laws are,” Scott said. Scott is expected to ask lawmakers in March to make changes to Citizens’ charter to require the new oversight requirements. Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said he thinks the proposal is a good idea. “I’m all for it,” Atwater said.
Please view the original article at the Orlando Sentinel website.