Bill strengthens dedicated prosecutor program statewide to address insurance fraud
Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg), in partnership with Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Representative Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo), announced the filing of Senate Bill 1012, investigative and forensic services, to tackle the growing issue of insurance fraud in Florida. Every year insurance fraud adds to the cost paid by consumers for everything from automobile insurance to homeowners’ insurance. The legislation will require cooperation between the insurance industry and the state to investigate and prosecute fraud.
“Insurance fraud in Florida is evolving, and policyholders are forced to pay for it through higher premiums every year,” stated Senator Brandes. “This is a hidden tax on every Floridian who drives a car, owns a home, rents an apartment, or pays for health insurance. If left unchecked, the cost of fraud will grow and consumers will continue to pay the price. I am committed to making insurance affordable for Floridians, and I am proud to work with Jeff Atwater to address this critically important issue.”
“We must do everything possible to help hold the line on rising insurance rates—rates that are particularly high in South Florida,” said Representative Holly Raschein. “I’m proud to sponsor this common sense solution that will better align the resources that we already have in place, and allow law enforcement to use them strategically in the fight to curb the fraud that drives up rates in our state.”
“We’ve made significant strides in our fight against insurance fraud, and we couldn’t have done so without the steadfast partnership of the fraud-fighting units housed within many of our state’s insurance companies and the dedicated prosecutors who take our cases to trial,” said CFO Jeff Atwater. “With this bill we hope to further improve our processes and hone our techniques so that we can continue to stay a step ahead of the criminals who seek to defraud Floridians. I am thankful to Senator Brandes and Representative Raschein for their leadership on this important issue.”
Fraud can account for as high as 10 percent of the property and casualty insurance industry’s loss expenses every year. This proposed legislation seeks to strengthen the state’s efforts to fight insurance fraud. The bill requires the development of anti-fraud plans by insurance companies and be submitted to the Division of Investigative and Forensic Services. The bill further requires anti-fraud training for personnel within insurance companies designated to oversee the company’s fraud prevention efforts. The bill requires reporting of anti-fraud statistics to the division annually, so that the division can better track the changing trends of fraud statewide. Finally, the bill strengthens a program to assign dedicated prosecutors to different regions of the state to tackle insurance fraud. The Chief Financial Officer of Florida, based on the annual fraud statistics submitted to the division, may assign and re-assign the dedicated prosecutors as needed to address the changing trends of insurance fraud.
For more information on SB 1012 please visit http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/1012.