A top official at Citizens Property Insurance, chief financial officer Sharon Binnun, resigned Monday, the company president Barry Gilway announced Monday in a note to employees.
Binnun served the company as a steadfast defender of some of Citizen's most controversial policies and faced withering criticism from lawmakers and consumer advocates over those ideas as well as over travel expenses racked up by Citizens executives.
Binnun, who joined the state-run insurance company in six years ago and made $255,000 a year, said in her resignation letter she has accepted a job in the private sector effective July 5. She is credited with helping to transfer 430,000 policies from Citizens to private insurers over the past two years, resulting in an estimated 47 percent decrease in potential assessments on Citizens customers and all Florida policyholders in the event of a catastrophic storm.
Binnin was often the voice of Citizens before the legislature, calmly defending ideas that were later rejected by policy makers as too controversial -- such as a proposal from Citizens to offer loans to companies to take out Citizens policies and to remove caps on rate hikes.
Most recently, she has defended a deal to give Heritage Property and Casualty Insurance Co. up to $52 million to take over 60,000 policies from Citizens, a policy that was approved by the board but has drawn criticism as being from lawmakers. House and Senate leaders have announced plans to investigate the arrangement, which came after Heritage donated $110,000 to Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign.
Gilway called her an "invaluable part of our leadership team" whose "well-earned reputation within the international financial world as an ethical, knowledgeable and honest representative has been instrumental in helping to establish Citizens as a global leader in risk transference."
Binnun, a former insurance regulator who became Citizens CFO in 2007, is taking a job with a Florida-based insurer that has not done depopulation business with Citizens, the company said in a statement.
Here are Gilway and Binnun's notes:From Gilway:
"It is with equal parts pride and regret that I announce that Citizens’ Chief Financial Officer, Sharon Binnun, has accepted a position in the private sector and will be leaving Citizens effective July 5, 2013.
As many of you know, Sharon has been an invaluable part of our leadership team since joining Citizens six years ago. Her well-earned reputation within the international financial world as an ethical, knowledgeable and honest representative has been instrumental in helping to establish Citizens as a global leader in risk transference.
There truly can be no doubt that no one has made a more significant or beneficial contribution to Citizens or the Florida insurance market. Among many other achievements, Sharon successfully negotiated an innovative risk-transfer program that has received world-wide recognition and spearheaded a record-setting depopulation effort that culminated in Citizens’ first-ever commercial wind-only takeout. As a result of these efforts, Citizens is in the best financial position ever going into storm season.
Sharon herself would say that most of what she does could not be accomplished without her hardworking Financial Services team. Over the coming weeks, she will be working to ensure that they are ready to keep Citizens moving forward following her departure. In addition, the Executive Leadership Team and Board is already working to determine the best course going forward for recruiting Sharon’s successor.
I hope you all will join me in wishing Sharon the best of luck in her future endeavors. I have no doubt that her integrity and keen financial knowledge will help to ensure her success as she takes this next step in her career.
In addition to my sharing this news with you, Sharon has written a message (below) that she asked me to share with all of your regarding her departure.
To all my wonderful colleagues at Citizens:
I wish to announce my retirement from public service and return to the private sector. I expect my last day at Citizens will be July 5th. Those of you who know me are aware that I have truly enjoyed my role as CFO at Citizens for the last six years. I simply love the work and the wonderful people I work with makes this job so special. My sincere appreciation goes to all my wonderful friends and co-workers. Our success has been a team effort; I could not succeed without you and I am so proud of our team. I’m especially proud of our Financial Services group, who has become an effective team and done quite exceptional work which has brought significant financial benefit to the organization. Thanks to all of you for your dedication to public service, doing the right thing, focusing on our core mission, and finding a way to make this often challenging work fun!
I will always be a friend of Team Citizens, I will miss you all, and and I look forward to staying in touch.
My very best personal regards,
Sharon A. Binnun
CFO, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation