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State: Insurers to be allowed to change forms first and justify them later

Correction of a previous post from the News Service of Florida:

Hit with a heavy spike in requests for changes in forms, the Office of Insurance Regulation on Monday issued a rule allowing companies to go forward with changes without prior approval in certain cases.

The order, signed Monday by Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, doesn’t affect rate filings by insurance companies – only filings involving forms the companies must file.

With a number of recent changes in state insurance laws leading to an unusually high number of filings, regulators don't have the ability to go through all the form change filings quickly enough. In such a circumstance, the law allows regulators to approve changes without a full up front review.

"This current volume of form filings has taxed the office's review resources and resulted in a lengthier period of review for many filings," McCarty's order states. "Due to the current volume of filings and the agency's resource limitations, the office finds the review and approval of policy forms … is not practicable where the form at issue has been diligently and thoroughly reviewed by the company..."

The order drew criticism from Sean Shaw, a former Florida insurance consumer advocate who now works with a Tampa law firm that handles policyholder claims.

"It's a dangerous day in Florida when the Office of Insurance Regulation turns into the office of blind trust because they lack the resources to independently verify form filings from insurance companies," Shaw said in a statement.