Questions Raised about FIGA Board Changes, Now With No Auto Insurer Reps

By | June 17, 2024

In May, Florida’s chief financial officer sent out a notice that he had appointed new members to the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association’s board of directors. Just a week later, though, one of those appointees, a State Farm employee, was replaced.

The reshuffling has left the board of FIGA, which oversees claims when insurance companies become insolvent, with no auto insurer representatives—at least for now. It’s not clear if state law requires auto insurance companies to be represented on the board.

“In appointing members to the board, the department shall consider among other things whether all areas of insurance covered by this part are fairly represented,” reads Florida Statute 631.56.

Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis this week suggested all is well and the board now has a quorum, in keeping with statute. Only five of nine slots are filled, though.

“The CFO is confident that the wealth of insurance experience on the FIGA board will be an asset to insurance consumers and the insurance industry statewide,” a spokesman for Patronis said in an email.

Some in the Florida insurance industry are calling it a “shakeup” at a time that the well-regarded guaranty association is officially leaderless. Corey Neal, the executive director since early 2022, stepped down in late May to become executive vice president at SageSure, a managing general underwriter. Steve Brown, the chief operating officer at FIGA, is expected to be named director once the FIGA board approves, but the board has not scheduled its next meeting.

Brown and other FIGA officials could not be reached about the new board members.

Florida law allows the state’s CFO great latitude over the board of directors. He can appoint all of them, up to nine members, for four-year terms. At least three must be from domestic insurance companies, the law notes.

“The department shall approve and appoint to the board persons recommended by the member insurers or shall approve and appoint other persons with experience in property and casualty insurance or motor vehicle insurance as determined by the Chief Financial Officer,” the statute reads.

The CFO can also remove members for misconduct, neglect of duty or if they work for a carrier that becomes insolvent.

In the recent round of appointments, Patronis in mid-May reappointed board Chair Kimberly Blackburn, who is vice president of products and compliance for Florida Farm Bureau Insurance. The CFO also appointed Benjamin Treuil, a vice president at Frontline Insurance, based in Heathrow, Florida. Treuil reportedly has replaced Pamela Matthews, an official with USAA Insurance, which writes a significant number of auto as well as homeowners policies and in the state. Matthews’ term recently expired.

Patronis also named Glenn Ritchie, a State Farm Insurance agent, to replace Paula Lutes, a lawyer at State Farm, whose term had concluded.

But days later, Glenn Ritchie was out, and Patronis named Jon Ritchie, no relation, who is the chief operating officer at Tampa-based American Integrity Insurance, a property insurer. Glenn Ritchie said in an email: “Due to an unexpected personal situation that arose after my acceptance and appointment, I have had to submit my resignation.

He said he had been honored to serve on the FIGA governing board. “Unfortunately, life’s timing can sometimes disrupt our plans and commitments.” He gave no further details.

“The former auto insurance board appointee separated from the appointing company, so his term ended immediately,” Patronis’ spokesman, Devin Galetta, said.

With State Farm and USAA representatives off the FIGA board, it leaves the organization with little or no input from automobile insurance companies on how claims should be settled after an insolvency.

While auto insurance in Florida is dominated by major national carriers, and few auto insurers have gone under in recent years, insolvencies are not unheard of.

Windhaven Insurance Co., with offices in Doral, Florida, wrote non-standard auto coverage and held more than 70,000 policies in Florida. It was placed into liquidation proceedings in early 2020, according to the Florida Department of Financial Services.

The current board FIGA members are:

  • Kimberly Blackburn, Florida Farm Bureau; appointed 03/01/16 – reappointed 3/1/24
  • Brent Brummer; Florida Family Insurance; appointed 02/22/23
  • Charles Lydecker; Foundation Risk Partners brokerage; appointed 02/22/23
  • Jon Ritchie, American Integrity Insurance; appointed 05/24/24
  • Benjamin Treuil, Frontline Insurance; appointed 05/14/24

Other names have been submitted for the remaining board positions at FIGA and it’s possible Patronis could name more auto insurer representatives in coming months—or he could keep the focus on property insurers since most claims against insolvent insurers have been from homeowners in recent years, one source pointed out.

“Our office will continue to put policyholders first, assess board needs, and make additional appointments accordingly. Stay tuned,” Patronis’ spokesman said.

Topics Carriers Auto

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