Klein Calls for Direct Election of Insurance Commissioner
Klein: Commissioner Needs to Have “Real Authority” and Accountability
For Immediate Release
State Senator Ron Klein (D-Boca Raton) today announced that he will pursue legislation to create a directly elected insurance commissioner. This legislation would put the question of amending the Constitution to create the new post in the hands of Florida’s voters.
Klein said that the move was motivated in part by his recent efforts to seek accountability of insurance companies for alleged acts of mismanagement and negligence. Last month, Klein called on the Office of Insurance Regulation to freeze rate hikes pending an investigation of nearly $200 million that was paid out in the wake of the 2004 hurricane season to areas far removed from the path of hurricane destruction. The OIR responded by stating that the office did not have the authority to act on this call. Klein said that such responses underscore the fundamental lack of authority and oversight of the current system.
“What this state needs is one individual, elected by the people of the state of Florida, vested with the authority and power to hold insurance companies accountable for their actions,” Klein said.
Klein said that his legislation will give voters the opportunity to return the authority for the regulation of the insurance industry to one elected cabinet post. To guard against political influence, Klein said that his legislation will bar persons running for the office from taking political contributions from insurance companies or those affiliated with the insurance industry. Additionally, Klein said this individual will be vested with “real authority to regulate the insurance industry.”
“When the voters of this state chose to shrink the size of the cabinet in 1998, they were never asked if they wanted to do away with the direct election of the individual in charge of regulating insurance,” Klein said. “After three years of skyrocketing premiums, policy cancellations, fraud, neglect and mismanagement it’s time we give the people of this state the opportunity to decide if they are happy with the current system.”
Klein said the current system has diluted the authority of the insurance commissioner and created confusion as to who is responsible for specific oversight of the industry. Klein said that this greatly favors the insurance industry.
“We have to put a stop to the buck passing and finger pointing going on between the office of the Chief Financial Officer and the Office of Insurance Regulation,” Klein said. “This can only be accomplished by putting the responsibility for insurance regulation into the hands of one directly elected person who is willing to accept the responsibility and use the authority given them to protect the homeowners of the state.”