After Two Years in the Eye of the Storm, Neal Steps Down From FIGA. Brown Up Next

By | May 20, 2024

Corey Neal took over as executive director of the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association in early 2022, at the height of what many would say were some of the darkest days for the Florida property/casualty market. Two carriers had just been placed into receivership and nine more would soon follow, loading FIGA with more than 50,000 claims to wade through.

Neal announced this month that he is stepping down from FIGA, effective May 24, to become senior vice president at SageSure, a rapidly growing managing general underwriter that has focused on catastrophe-prone markets, mostly outside of Florida. The American Guaranty Fund Group, which manages FIGA, has recommended that Steve Brown, chief operating officer at FIGA, serve as interim director at the association. FIGA’s board of directors is expected to meet soon on Brown’s succession.

Neal started his career two decades ago as controller at Citizens Property Insurance Corp., then became COO at SageSure. He has won praise from industry veterans for his management of FIGA over the last 28 months and for FIGA’s handling of the claims left behind by insolvent Florida carriers.

The Insurance Journal sat down with Neal to discuss the recent past and the near future for him and FIGA. His comments have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

IJ: Tell us why you’re leaving FIGA now.


I had an opportunity to go back and work for the company that I worked for for 14 years, before I came here. It is a good opportunity. Thinking it through with my family, it felt like the right thing to do.

My last day is May 24. But I’ve told them at FIGA I’m 100% committed, so as much time as they need. I’ll help out as much as I can. I’m not going anywere; I’m staying local in Tallahassee. I’ll be around. It’s important that this transition runs smoothly, and the company I’ll be working for, they understand that. They’re OK with me making sure this place is good and the transition is smooth.

SageSure recently bought GeoVera Advantage Insurance Services, a managing general agent.

Yes. They bought pieces of GeoVera’s MGA. So I’m going to assist with that transaction. But there are some other things they want me to do. But that’s kind of what started this, that transaction. That’s when I got a formal call and then an offer.

Describe your new role.

I’ll be senior vice president, working on transactions outside of Florida. That was part of the deal. I’ve been approached many times by some of these new takeout companies. But I really felt it was not appropriate for me to go to a Florida company. So this opportunity presented itself, and it was outside of Florida. I’m really familiar with the company. The CEO (Terry McLean) is actually a really good friend of mine, so it was the right fit. I wasn’t looking to leave, by any means. I love it here. But an opportunity like this just wasn’t going to come along very often.

SageSure has been around for quite a while, right?

Yes. It has grown by leaps and bounds. When I left I think they were under $250 million in premium under management. Now they’re approaching about $2 billion

You certainly came in at an interesting time for Florida and FIGA. Any words of wisdom for your successor?

The thing about this organization is, it’s got a great mission. And people who gravitate towards it, they definitely have empathy for the policyholder and what they’re dealing with. I mean, you don’t work here unless you have that empathy. I would just say, “Don’t lose track of that and just try to help people get through a situation that they didn’t ask for.” Insolvency was out of their control and our job is to help them through that process of getting their claim resolved. So, don’t lose track of that, and if you make all of your decisions based on that, you’re going to be OK.

Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis announced two new members to the FIGA board of directors and the reappointment of the chairwoman to the board. Kimberly Blackburn, of Gainesville, has served as chair of the association in recent years and has been president of products and compliance at Florida Farm Bureau Insurance for 28 years. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Glenn Ritchie, Winter Springs, is a chartered underwriter, a chartered financial consultant, and a chartered property casualty underwriter. Ritchie has worked for State Farm Insurance for 46 years and has been a State Farm Insurance agent since January of this year. He received his bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Louisiana-Monroe, and his master’s in business administration from the University of Florida. Benjamin Treuil, of Lake Mary, has worked with Frontline Insurance for more than 20 years and is now executive vice president of finance. He received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Miami.

To your knowledge, does FIGA do anything differently than guaranty associations in other states? Besides being busier, maybe?

Not really. We’re extremely busy. Louisiana has been extremely busy. We just try to be proactive and move as quickly as we can. I think we move a little bit faster. We’re a little quicker. I mean there are a lot of people who might think we should probably move quicker. But in aggregate, we moved pretty quick. There’s still some work to do. We’re by no means out of this yet. There’s still about 6,000 claims left to resolve. But I think we have some good strategies to finish the United Property & Casualty (UPC) claims. UPC has about 3,000 claims left. So, we have some good ideas about how to get these last claims resolved, so we can get back to being less busy.

Looks like things are headed in that direction.

I think so. Storm season will have something to do with that. But I’m not hearing any reinsurance placement issues for Florida carriers.

Earlier this year, the governor’s budget proposed suspending the FIGA assessment as part of a relief package for Florida policyholders.

They pulled our assessment part out of that bill. It got too complicated because there are bond holders. People have purchased our bonds, so we have to make sure their interests are protected. But the collections on that assessment are going well. You’re seeing the effects of the rate increases, and inflation is driving up replacement costs, and we’re seeing that in the surcharge that we’re collecting. That’s good for Florida policyholders. That means we can pay off our bonds faster. That’s our goal, so we can, hopefully, shut down the 1% assessment.

Any words of advice for the Florida governor and the Legislature?

I think all that’s happened is on the right path. Just give it time, let some of these reforms work themselves out. It’s going to take a while for some of these older legacy claims to get resolved under the old law. I’m a believer in the free market and that the invisible hand will drive rates back down. It’s just going to take a little bit of time. Hopefully people will have the patience for that.

Read More About FIGA’s Handling of Claims for Insolvent Carriers

Topics Florida Windstorm

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