During the last Citizens board meeting (11/27/12) recent “allegations” and investigations into tawdry or illegal behavior at Citizens were reviewed in detail (click for video of the board workshop).
Based on what I heard, some in the media owe some at Citizens (or those who have left Citizens) an apology, but…I’m not holding my breath.
As to those that some on the Citizens board pointed to as encouraging the irresponsible media reports, as I predicted in my last blog, “The Tip of the Ice Berg”, it didn’t take long for them to “feign indignation”. And, also as anticipated, some in the media ignored any testimony that challenged it’s preconceived notions.
While I would never argue there isn’t anything to investigate at Citizens; if I was a reporter, I certainly wouldn’t investigate only salacious internal allegations. I would also vigorously pursue charges of abuse from the outside. That’s the field John Rollins and some (but, not enough) Citizens board members asked the media to furrow–in essence, “we will fix any problems at Citizens but please keep an eye on those who exploit mere allegations for personal gain.”
Unfortunately, (and again) some in the media reacted defensively (See NOTE #1 below)–hiding behind their status as “messengers”, ignoring a well lit trail of money that stops on the doorstep of the Merlin Law Group, Policyholders of Florida, similar firms and fronting groups.
Chairman LaCassa’s gavel had barely ended the meeting when Merlin’s PR firm tweeted it was all “Lies, lies, lies” and Sean Shaw released another deflective manifesto recasting the entire episode as a clarion call for his for-profit venture.
“Policyholders of Florida works every day to give policyholders a voice – to beat back rate hikes, to stop surplus lines companies from poaching policies without consent, and defeat anti-consumer legislation written by insurance industry lobbyists. While we may not have said a word in yesterday’s meeting, we were present in the fear and animosity in the voices of our detractors.
Perhaps if Mr. Rollins focused more time mending the mangled corporate culture at Citizens and less time lashing out at well-meaning consumer advocates, we would be closer to finding a solution to our state’s real insurance woes.”
With a sound bite obsessed, overworked, sometimes biased media, it’s an effective strategy: quick response, feigned indignation and reams of deflective commentary.
“Shaw boasts about the effectiveness of his front-group because it was successful in lowering the price of a coverage his firm profits from. But, Shaw knows that potency wasn’t the issue; his motivations were. Pociask implied Policyholder’s of Florida was formed to benefit trial lawyers and Public Adjusters. Shaw had to ignore that claim just as Bill Newton and others continue to ignore my proof that lawyers are making a killing off of sinkholes. Their failure to fess up, of course, only highlights already suspect motives. For what it’s worth; records show that one firm filed over $40 million in sinkhole claims, in just one year, just for Citizens, and that 70% of claimants don’t need the money.”
So, who’s to blame? The media, trial lawyers….Sean Shaw?
Well, as is often the case, when you look close enough at a problem, the enemy often stirs within.
Too few members of the Citizens board were willing to name names or to even speak in support of John Rollins; and, practically no one in the private market is willing to walk out on the proverbial limb with him.
Insurance lobbyists, insurance companies, trade associations, Citizens board members, sympathetic policymakers…all those unwilling to expose the truth or even to echo it when others do, YOU…are at least part of the problem!
The trail is easy to find and, thanks to those like John Rollins, it’s well lit.
The challenge is…“Who will walk down it?”
NOTE #1: The day after John Rollins points the finger at Sean Shaw and the Merlin Law Group for having a stake in Citizens subsidized rates and high population, the following media accounts appear:
Ft. Lauderdale New Times
Topless Dancing and Big Severance: Citizens Insurance Complaints About the Media Are Pathetic
Jacksonville Daily Record
Citizens board responds to scandal, blasts media reports
Those Citizens’ hijinks? Blame the media, of course
Panama City News Herald
Blaming the messenger
NOTE #2: Citizens, numerous websites and media clipping services, business groups like the Florida Chamber or the Florida Association of Insurance Agents and others, have information necessary for you to participate in exposing those who abuse Florida’s insurance system for personal gain. The library tab on this site, particularly items starting with the word “Sinkhole” and the above links in this post give you more than enough details to write a letter to your local editor in support of Rollins comments. Always feel free to simply copy my blogs and send them to someone, anyone!
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