Court urges Allstate to act quickly


April 9th, 2008

Tallahassee Democrat--Apr 9, 2008

By Paul Flemming
FLORIDA CAPITAL BUREAU

Both state insurance regulators and Allstate claimed a share of victory with a court order Tuesday in their ongoing political and legal battle.

The state may not shut Allstate out of new business just yet, but its power to do so could come sooner than would otherwise be the case.

On Friday, the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the Office of Insurance Regulation and its power to sanction Allstate for failing to turn over documents in an ongoing investigation of property insurance rates and policy cancellations.

Allstate argued it had 15 days to file an appeal and, at least until that deadline passed, the protection it had earlier won from being hit with a January OIR order to stop writing new policies in Florida remained in place.

The court on Tuesday said the stay holding off the OIR ban remained in place, but shortened the time Allstate has to seek a rehearing of the case.

"It does seem as if the judges are saying in this order, 'Tic-toc. Let's go,'" said Tom Zutell, a spokesman for Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty.

Allstate officials said its viewpoint was affirmed by the court's order, even if the schedule has changed.

Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty in January prohibited 10 Allstate affiliates from doing any new business in the state. He did so to force the company into complying with investigatory subpoenas.

Zutell said Allstate continues to review its legal options and could not say if the company would seek a rehearing.

Though the state's order would halt Allstate from writing new insurance policies, it does not affect 2 million current Florida customers.