Monday, March 2, 2009

Florida OIR Unveils '09 Freedom to Travel Report

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty has submitted the 2009 Freedom to Travel Report to legislative leaders detailing the Office of Insurance Regulation's (Office) efforts to implement the "Freedom to Travel Act."

Passed in 2006 and codified into law at Section 626.9541(1)(dd), Florida Statutes, the legislation placed strict limitations on insurance companies' ability to deny or increase premiums for life insurance based on foreign travel.

The 2009 report to the President of the Florida Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives documents a decline in the number of instances and companies that have denied or limited coverage based on foreign travel plans. The report also outlines the Office's enforcement efforts. Since the 2008 Freedom to Travel Report, the Office has fined two companies a total of $310,000 for noncompliance with the statute.

The law states that an insurer may not refuse to issue life insurance to; refuse to continue the life insurance of; or limit the amount, extent, or kind of life insurance coverage available to an individual based solely on the individual's past lawful foreign travel experiences or future travel plans.

The report also names 93 insurance companies that ask travel-related questions on at least one of their life insurance applications. The data call, sent to 493 insurance entities authorized to write life insurance or annuities in Florida, allowed the Office to survey one million life insurance applications.

The Office found evidence that five companies had violated Section 626.9541(1)(dd) regarding the treatment of foreign travel. Pending the outcome of further investigation, it is likely that these companies could be fined under the statute.

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