Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company Fined $1.26 Million for Claim Delays By Tod Aronovitz | 06/03/13 | 0 Comment

Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company, Florida’s second largest property insurer and the largest private homeowners insurance company in the state, was assessed a $1.26 million fine for numerous violations in its market conduct.

The Fort Lauderdale-based insurer has roughly 542,000 policyholders statewide and collects more than $765 million a year in premiums, representing an estimated 8.9% of the total Florida property insurance market. The company has been licensed to transact insurance business in Florida since 1997.

According to a May 30, 2013 order from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR), the company engaged in several violations from 2009 through May 2013, including:

  • Delayed paying claims when it was already determined they were valid.
  • Failed to mail unearned premiums to customers within 15 days after they cancelled their policies in over 20 cases.
  • Maintained poor records documenting that cancellation or nonrenewal notices were mailed to customers on a timely basis.
  • Voided 12 policies without a valid reason. The company didn’t underwrite policies when they were made, but instead attempted to retroactively cancel them following claims.
  • Canceled 262 policies due to alleged misstatements without giving the insured the legally required 100 days notice.
  • Did not maintain an adequate database of customer complaints.
  • Failed to make periodic adjustments to the system it uses to estimate its loss reserves, which could lead to them being deficient.

Universal was also ordered to provide more comprehensive financial statements so OIR could further review investment activity at the company in 2009 and 2011.

Universal’s president and CEO Bradley Meier stepped down in February while the review was still underway and was replaced by former COO Sean Downes. Meier was solely responsible for its investment functions, OIR said.

This is the second regulatory action against the company since 2009. Universal has 21 days to decide if it wants to challenge the $1.26 million fine.

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