Senate orders insurance execs to testifyby Dara Kam | January 15th, 2008
A Senate select committee issued letters to five insurance industry executives on Tuesday ordering them to appear under oath next month to answer questions about property insurance rate filings.
The letters were sent to execs of Hartford Insurance Co., American Strategic Insurance Co., Nationwide Insurance Co. of Florida, Florida Farm Bureau insurance companies and two Allstate Insurance Co. Florida subsidiaries.
The letters were sent within hours after Office of Insurance Regulation Commissioner Kevin McCarty halted a scheduled two-day hearing after just three hours of testimony from Allstate executives, calling the company’s representatives refusal to hand over documents regarding its rate filings “a slap in the face” to regulators.
“We recognize that your schedule is busy and that you may not be able to be present for the full two days of hearings. Thus, when you contact the Senate to confirm your appearance and discuss your schedule, we will provide an approximate time range for your particular testimony before the Committee. However, it is our expectation that, in addition to your testimony, a senior member of your management team will attend the full two days of meetings in order to hear all of the testimony and answer additional questions Senators may have for your company after others testify,” the letters, sent by Select Committee on Property Insurance Accountability co-chairmen Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, and Steve Geller, D-Cooper City.
Atwater sat in on the Tuesday morning’s hearing and said later he was not satisfied what he heard.
“Not at all. I think it was an intentional dodge today. I think they brought people into this room that would not have the expertise to answer as to why the corporation has not provided the documents,” said Atwater, R-North Palm Beach.
“They were invited here to explain when are you going to provide the documents so that we can investigate your rate filing. And to intentionally show up with a team of people prepared to talk about a lot of other things other than for the reason they were invited here is unacceptable.”
Atwater urged McCarty to take legal action against Allstate for failing to comply with the subpoena and said he hopes that today’s hearing put a little fear into insurers.
“If we didn’t today, I’d suggest that they’re going to have another opportunity in the near future to explain themselves,” Atwater said.