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Fla.’s CFO Focuses on Property Insurance Fraud

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis formed and deployed two new teams to investigate fraud – a total of 13 members that includes detectives.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced on Thursday during the Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit that he formed and deployed two new property insurance fraud investigation teams.

The new teams are composed of 13 total members including 10 law enforcement detectives. The new division is based out of Tampa and Orlando, and working with federal, state and local partners to investigate property insurance fraud.

While concentrated in Central Florida, the investigative teams have the authority to pursue cases statewide.

“While my teams put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to hold fraudsters accountable, we cannot do it alone,” Patronis said. “That’s why we are employing a task force approach with both squads by joining with the Statewide Prosecutors Office, local state attorneys, law enforcement agencies and the insurance industry to better coordinate our fraud fighting efforts to protect Florida’s insurance consumers.”

Patronis’ Division of Investigative and Forensic Services encompasses all law enforcement and forensic components residing within the Department of Financial Services, and investigates insurance fraud, workers compensation fraud, arson and the misuse of state funds.

Florida property insurance fraud has become a mounting crisis for domestic insurance carriers. In 2019, all state carriers combined saw over $700 million in losses in 2019.

“Every year as CFO, I’ve worked to protect Florida consumers and combat rising insurance rates in our state,” Patronis said. “Whether it’s tackling AOB abuse (assignment of benefits), curbing post-disaster fraud, or stopping unscrupulous contractors, eliminating fraud is key to keeping insurance costs in check,” said Patronis. “Since I took office, our fraud unit has made more than 4,500 fraud and arson related arrests. These efforts have resulted in a total of more than $173 million in court ordered restitution.”

The two teams will largely focus on significant cases involving organized schemes to defraud, contractor fraud, fictitious damage claims, inflated damage claims, and fraudulent water and roof damage claims.

Patronis also highlighted his Residential Resiliency Tax Relief legislative proposal, which provides a tax exemption for improvements to Floridian homes while receiving a sales tax break.

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