– Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty today announced that he has ordered
State Farm Florida (State Farm) to issue credits or refunds totaling $120 million to current and former policyholders who did not apply for or who did not receive the Windstorm Loss Reduction Rating Plan discount for making their homes more resistant to wind damage.
In addition, State Farm must pay a $1 million penalty to the Florida Insurance Regulatory Trust Fund.
“I am very pleased that State Farm policyholders will now be getting the appropriate monetary credit for the important wind mitigation devices they put on their homes,” said Commissioner McCarty. “Taking steps to fortify our homes against wind damage is very important. Everything Florida consumers can do to reduce storm damage helps to keep property insurance costs down.”
The order follows a July notice to State Farm of an investigation by the Office into whether the company was properly implementing the mitigation discount program. As the result of an internal review, State Farm identified about 98,000 current or former policyholders to whom it will provide credits or refunds.
State Farm policyholders, who are entitled to the refunds will receive a notice from the company. They include policyholders who currently have, or did have, a homeowners, renters, condominium unit owners, apartment or condominium association policy.
Refunds will be credited to the renewal premium for all renewing policyholders entitled to the refund; or the company will issue a check. Former policyholders or those to whom State Farm has sent a nonrenewal notice prior to today will receive a check within 180 days. In addition, the refund must include 7 percent interest on the amount due to each policyholder until paid.
State Farm has 90 days to prepare the credit or refund process and 365 days for all credits or refunds to be issued. The company must then provide a signed certification, by a company officer, within 30 days of the date the last credit or refund is issued. The Office of Insurance Regulation will conduct a follow-up compliance audit in 12 months.
Other specific details are available in the order.
Section 627.11, Florida Statures, was enacted in 2005 and amended in March 2007 to specifically require insurance companies to tell their policyholders at the time a policy is issued or renewed about the discounts available for enhancing the wind resistance of their homes. The Office issued an Informational Memorandum
Sept. 14, 2007 to remind insurance companies of the statutory requirement.