ordered to refund increase
million must be returned to policy holders
Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Harriet Johnson Brackey
Published May 16, 2007
Property & Casualty Insurance must return more than $43 million to
policy holders, the state Office of Insurance Regulation said Friday.
The refunds or credits are a payback based on state regulators' decision
that United Property & Casualty's proposed rate increases, submitted
last year, were too high.
In September, United Property & Casualty proposed almost 90 percent
increases in home and condo policy premiums. Under state law at that time,
insurers were allowed to actually start charging higher premiums before
state regulators reviewed their rate-increase requests. This practice has
since been prohibited.
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation later determined the rates were
too high and approved a 55.3 percent increase statewide, with a 60 percent
cap in the most expensive areas.
"We will continue to aggressively pursue all refunds and credit that
are due to Florida consumers," Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty
said in a statement.
The state ordered the company to give back premiums it had already
collected at the higher rate.
Regulators said they had not spelled out how the money will be returned to
policy holders, other than it must at least be by the time each individual
policy comes up for renewal. The company could choose to issue refunds
sooner than that, a spokesman for the Office of Insurance Regulation said.
Calls to United Property & Casualty at its St. Petersburg headquarters
were not returned.
More than half or 29,657 of United Property & Casualty's homeowner
policies are for homes in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade County.
Overall, it has 51,860 policies in force, according to state regulators.
The company signed a consent order with the state May 29, but the
settlement was only made public Friday.