Insurer Heritage withdraws 14.9% hike questioned
Article Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post
July 8, 2016
In an unusual move, one of Florida’s largest insurers
has withdrawn its request for a 14.9 percent rate increase scrutinized
by Palm Beach Post reporting and questioned by homeowner advocates as
Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance Co. chose to withdraw the filing
for 2017 rates after regulators held “discussions” with the company on
unspecified “items within the filing,” Amy Bogner, spokeswoman for the
Office of Insurance Regulation, said Tuesday.
“The 0ffice has
undertaken a thorough review of the rate filing
submitted by Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance Co.
and held productive discussions with the company to
address various items within the filing,” Bogner said.
“The outcome of this review has resulted in Heritage
electing to withdraw the filing at this time. The office
looks forward to working with Heritage when it resubmits
the filing again and to address any concerns that may
arise on behalf of the consumers of Florida.”
Attempts to reach Heritage officials for comment were
not immediately successful.
The Palm Beach Post reported the insurer’s claim losses
had been falling as a share of premiums, even as
Heritage Insurance Holdings Inc. CEO Bruce Lucas nearly
quadrupled his compensation in one year to $27.3
That was more than 50 times what the CEO gets paid at
larger, state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp.,
where Heritage got most of its customers on its way to
becoming one of the state’s five largest property
“Your loss ratio is going down, you’re paying your
executive $27 million — how do you justify a 15 percent
rate increase without just saying ‘we’re being greedy’?”
said Ken Schurr, a Coral Gables attorney who represents
policyholders against insurance companies.
The requested increases would have raised rates 22
percent to 25 percent in Palm Beach County.
four-year-old company, has grown rapidly to become one
of the state’s largest property insurers.
Heritage, a four-year-old company, has grown
rapidly to become one of the state’s largest property insurers.
Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Sha’Ron James had requested a
hearing on the proposed increase, though regulators had not announced
one before Tuesday’s deadline to decide on the rate request. Regulators
are not required to hold hearings on increases less than 15 percent.
Heritage, a 4-year-old company, has grown rapidly to become one of the
state’s largest property insurers largely by taking customers from
Citizens. Transfer offers automatically switch homeowners unless they
take steps to decline. Fewer than 16 percent of Heritage’s 266,000
customers have been “voluntary,” meaning they arrived on their own, and
not through a state-assisted switch, according to company disclosures.
Heritage contributed $110,000 to Gov. Rick Scott’s Let’s Get to Work
committee and got a sweetener payment up to $52 million that most other
insurers did not receive to take Citizens customers in 2013, The Post