TAMPA, Fla. — Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis on Thursday announced five proposals targeting fraud that he will pursue for the Florida Legislature special session on insurance reform that begins May 23.

The key legislative proposal would add three more anti-fraud homeowner insurance teams that will investigate and prosecute suspected cases. Two similar organizations were created on the I-4 corridor last year. The new groups will cover Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

What You Need To Know

  • Florida's chief financial officer reveals five proposals for the home insurance special session

  • The Florida Legislature will address the state's home insurance crisis starting May 23

  • One proposal would set up three more state groups to investigate and prosecute fraud

  • Two of those groups were started in the I-4 corridor last year

The state would create 23 new positions to staff these anti-fraud groups — 15 detectives and three supervisors to work cases, three attorneys and a supervisor to prosecute cases and an analyst to help expedite the investigations.

“As area policyholders know, Florida’s insurance market is in trouble," Patronis said. "We are seeing more private carriers exit the market, and we’re seeing Citizens Insurance policies grow..... Florida communities are under attack by fraudsters who are willing to try anything to game the system. They are stealing from us all!"

The other initiatives would:

  • Create a $3 million anti-fraud and public education campaign. Patronis said many policyholders do not understand that they are signing their rights away or that litigation will only slow their claims and could result in liens on their property.
  • Amend Florida’s False Claims Act to allow whistleblowers to recover damages in cases in which the general public can file complaints over fraud cases, without necessarily being the victim, in fraud cases.
  • Provide $25,000 awards for calls to the “Florida Fraud Fighter Reward” tip line when there is an arrest to try to get more participation. Current law issues awards only when there is a conviction.
  • Change the assignment of benefits law, including banning bundling of the practice.

Even if approved, the changes would likely not solve Florida’s homeowners' insurance crisis because prices have spiraled to record highs for consumers, while at least five major insurance companies have left the state this year alone.

Politico reported draft legislation is already being circulated around the state capital.

Alongside Patronis at the announcement in Tampa was Citizens Property Insurance Corporation President, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Barry Gilway. Citizens Insurance also announced a settlement related to insurance fraud that cost the state-backed insurer millions. 

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation is legally required to provide insurance for homeowners that either lose their homeowners insurance or can’t find insurance after they have been dropped.

The company has been flooded with new customers this year as thousands have lost insurance to companies leaving the state.