TALLAHASSEE– Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink today announced her plan to improve the Department of Financial Services’ record keeping of civil remedy notices and the resolutions of these disputes between policyholders and insurance companies. Currently, the system consists of cumbersome paper-files of hundreds of thousands of medical, legal and insurance documents. CFO Sink has ordered her department to begin working on a more accessible electronic database, allowing consumers or their attorneys the opportunity to fulfill their statutory obligations entirely online.
CFO Sink’s revamp of the civil remedy notice compliance requirements comes on the heels of concerns over the record-keeping practices established under the previous administration. After being made aware of growing concerns, CFO Sink immediately ordered the protection of all public records and a full review of her department’s role in the receipt of civil remedy notices and the resolutions of the disputes. “I am pleased that despite initial concerns, it has always been the policy of the Department of Financial Services to retain all civil remedy notices, materials included with the initial filings and the final resolutions,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the department. “But I am not satisfied that these records have been used to the benefit of Florida consumers. We will be upgrading our systems with the goal of helping regulators quickly spot trends in market conduct.”
Floridians wanting to take legal action against an insurance company first must file a civil remedy notice with the department, which is also required to keep a record of the resolution of the consumer’s dispute. Last year, the department received more than 16,719 individual filings of civil remedy notices. By creating an electronic, web-based system for consumers having to file civil remedy notices, CFO Sink is simplifying the requirements for Floridians and eliminating the unwieldy paper-based system that currently prevents the swift observation of insurance marketplace trends. The future streamlined database will enable the CFO to generate reports about the types of legal action consumers are planning to file against insurance companies, and it is CFO Sink’s intention to share this data with the Office of Insurance Regulation and Insurance Consumer Advocate, General Bob Milligan.
In many instances, lawyers have also sent extraneous legal documents after the civil remedy notice was filed with the department, which often contain consumers’ personal medical and insurance information. CFO Sink’s electronic system will ensure that Floridians’ confidential information is protected, while providing essential information about consumer disputes.