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Questions Surround State-Run Insurance Deal with Private Company

May 23rd, 2013 by flanews

A deal between Florida’s largest state property insurance company and a new private insurance company is raising questions.

In a 3-2 vote, the board of state-run Citizens Property Insurance agreed to let newly-formed Heritage Property and Casualty Corporation take over 60-thousand policies; and pay the company 52-million dollars to do it. “The deal has been in the works for several months,” said Citizen’s Insurance Spokesperson, Michael Peltier.

The award comes after the president of Heritage donated more than 100-thousand dollars to Governor Rick Scott’s campaign. Scott is on a trade mission, but, Chief of Staff Adam Holingsworth responded to critics with a statement, saying: “Any assertion that our office influenced the Heritage risk transfer decision by the Citizens Board is [today] is outrageous.”

Citizens echoed the same message. “There’s been no pressure from anyone outside of Citizens,” said Peltier. “Whether that be the legislators or the governors office.”

The Office of Insurance Regulation, signed off on the deal but refused comment.

Matt Horn tried to reach out to Heritage President Richard Widdicombe’s office. He was transferred to several people, but no one was made available to answer any questions.

More than one of Widdicombe’s previous companies have been cited for dozens of violations; more than a quarter million in fines were assessed. But, state-run Citizens Insurance stands behind the boards decision on transferring the policies.

“They may be new to the business, but they’re not new to the industry,” said Peltier. The deal cuts Citizens overall risk by more than 400 million dollars.

The goal was to have the changes made before the beginning of hurricane season June 1.

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