As Florida homeowners track arguments between the state and Citizens Property Insurance Co. over sinkhole coverage, they are keeping an eye on Washington. Last week, the National Flood Insurance Program was granted a reprieve -- its second since the program officially expired in September. This extension will last another few weeks, at which point debates over coverage for wind and water damage will likely be postponed until 2012.
When Florida Governor Rick Scott threw down the gauntlet a couple of weeks ago, he expected the board of Citizens Property Insurance Company to come back with strategies that would help the company trim its budget and grow its reserve. The state-backed insurer may have taken the governor and the Legislature by surprise when it came back earlier than expected with requests for legislative action.
Two weeks ago, Florida's governor asked the board of Citizens Property Insurance Company to get its house in order. Concerned that the state's insurer of last resort would not be able to meet the financial demands of a major storm, the governor chastised Citizens' management team for allowing the company to become so large without safeguarding its financial stability.
We have been talking about business insurance. The passage of the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 changed the landscape for businesses -- especially financial services companies -- by instituting a de facto incentive for whistleblowers. The heightened risk of an investigation, initiated by an internal complaint or a regulatory inquiry, should prompt business to review their insurance policies. The directors and officers coverage of the old days may not be enough.
We are continuing our discussion of the impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on business insurance. The law includes protections and incentives for whistleblowers that may very well result in internal and regulatory investigations. Even if there is no wrongdoing, the costs of these investigations will likely be steep. Companies, then, will want to review their insurance policies, particularly their directors and officers coverage.
In the wake of the financial meltdown, mortgage servicing companies and lenders, banks and brokerage houses, any business that had anything to do with the securitization debacle suddenly became the object of intense regulatory scrutiny. Every investigation poses a risk to the company and its directors and officers. Enron is just one example.
Florida's Gov. Rick Scott has come close to issuing an ultimatum to the board of governors of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. The governor challenged the board on Tuesday to come up with ways the insurance company can better meet its obligations in the event of a big storm. Lawmakers around the state agree with Scott that Citizens would fail altogether if a hurricane or series of hurricanes were to hit.