Where are our insurance consumer advocates? Are they publicly wanting to appear one way to get their constituents’ votes, but then voting another way behind closed doors? This is my concern, because otherwise the last bill placed before Governor Crist would never have appeared. My powerful, worthy, much richer, and able State Farm lobbyist, Mark Delegal and other similarly powerful interested insurance industry lawyers show how the insurance industry has already set out its agenda on the insurance consumers of Florida in a recent article:
Insurance industry lobbyist Mark Delegal, who represents State Farm and other insurance companies, said Wednesday that bringing back the insurance deregulation bill – which passed last session but was vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist – is definitely being explored by the industry.
"If there’s a special session, we would be pursuing legislation that is the same as or similar to HB 1171," Delegal said.
Last session’s HB 1171 would have allowed certain large, well-capitalized insurance companies to raise rates outside of the regulatory framework. It was an effort to appease companies that say they can’t make money in Florida – including State Farm, which is trying to pull out of the property insurance market here because regulators won’t allow it to raise rates to what it says it needs to charge to remain viable.
The legislation, sponsored last session by Rep. Bill Proctor, passed the House overwhelmingly – 105-13 – and passed the Senate 27-9. Those numbers give backers of the legislation hope that a veto override would be possible if lawmakers return.
Proctor said Wednesday in an interview that he had already filed the same legislation for next session, and acknowledged interest in the possibility of bringing it back earlier should there be a special session.
Here’s the question – Is Procter bought and paid for by the insurance industry? He is in the leadership of the Florida legislature. And, as a card carrying member of the Republican Party, I wonder whether our Republican legislative leadership is giving into corporate interests rather than the individual fiscal conservative interests that should be the bedrock of both major political parties. Insurance companies, as non-human “Citizens,” do not necessarily care about such concerns. The rest of us, breathing and bleeding types, really do care.
I pour my heart out for my policyholder clients. As I write this, I am making last edits to get that point out to some lawyers that will inspire other attorneys to do the same and make it worth their while to take on these very able insurance litigators. My speech is at the National Institute on Insurance Bad Faith.
I honestly feel humbled that some attorneys would pay to attend this seminar where I have the opportunity to teach them how my firm tries to help policyholders every day regarding their claims disputes. As far as I am concerned, this is our professional obligation. Still, I understand that the insurance companies try costly tactics against many of my colleagues that are not very well financed every day. Trying to make these cases simpler and less costly has been a concern of mine.
And after all this, we all benefit from those that advocate for fairness of rates and claims practices. These others, similarly situated, are those that support United Policyholders or are members of the AAJ Fair Insurance Claims Practices Group a/k/a Bad Faith litigation Group.
The bottom line is that I have deep concerns about how many in the Florida Legislature are advocating certain positions when they address the citizens of this State, but are behaving much differently behind closed doors. Stay tuned.