final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
appeal from the Office of Insurance Regulation. David
Kenneth G. Oertel, Timothy J. Perry and Sidney C. Bigham,
III, of Oertel, Fernandez, Bryant & Atkinson P.A.,
Tallahassee, for Appellant.
P. Stiller, Chief Assistant General Counsel, Alyssa S.
Lathrop, Assistant General Counsel, Office of Insurance
Regulation, Tallahassee, for Appellee Office of Insurance
Timothy W. Volpe and Thomas P. White of Adams and Reese LLP,
Jacksonville, for Appellee Citizens Property Insurance
Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe, Inc., appeals a final order
from the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) denying its
request for a formal administrative hearing regarding
windstorm insurance rates established by OIR for Citizens
Property Insurance Corporation. We affirm.
Background and Procedural History
was created in 2002 by the Florida Legislature to provide
insurance coverage to property owners who are unable to
procure insurance in the private market. See §
627.351(6), Fla. Stat. Citizens is statutorily required to
submit proposed rates at least annually to OIR, which in turn
establishes Citizens' rates by final order after
consideration of the proposal. See §
627.351(6)(n)1., Fla. Stat. Appellant is a corporation whose
stated purpose is "to advocate for . . . the
promulgation of fair, impartial, and actuarially-sound
windstorm insurance rates [for residential and commercial
property owners] in Monroe County, Florida."
and August 2016, Citizens submitted to OIR its proposed
windstorm insurance rates for residential and commercial
properties in all Florida counties, including Monroe County,
to take effect February 1, 2017. OIR accepted public
comments, and on August 18, 2016, it conducted a public
hearing on the proposed rate increases. At the hearing,
representatives from Citizens explained the reasoning and
methodology behind the rate proposals, and individuals,
including Appellant's representatives, were able to
comment. Appellant's representatives expressed concern
that the four hurricane models used for assessing risk
returned highly divergent results for Monroe County, and
contended that the rate increases were not justified in light
of Monroe County's geographical characteristics, building
standards, and history of premiums in excess of claims.
Representatives from Citizens acknowledged these issues and
indicated that Citizens would be eager to get additional
guidance from the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss
Projection Methodology about an improved approach for wind
ratemaking in Monroe County.
approved Citizens' proposed windstorm insurance rates,
including those for Monroe County, and issued Order 195073-16
(establishing residential rates) and Order 197820-16
(establishing commercial rates) on September 16 and 30, 2016,
respectively. However, in recognition of the divergent
hurricane model results for Monroe County, OIR indicated that
it would request a review by the Florida Commission on
Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology and noted that, at
Appellant's request, Citizens had agreed to fund a study
to evaluate the rates in light of Monroe County's higher
building code standards. OIR stated that it would require
Citizens to submit an additional rate filing based on these
additional studies, if appropriate.
OIR's approval of the rates, Appellant sent a letter to
Citizens, requesting relief under section 627.371(1), Florida
Statutes. The letter stated that Appellant and its
Citizens policyholder members were "aggrieved by the
rating plan, rating system, and regulated underwriting rules
followed or adopted . . . by Citizens and [OIR] that [led] to
the orders issued." Appellant asserted that the rates
were excessive, unfairly discriminatory, and not actuarially
sound, and that they violated "both the spirit and
substance of chapter 627, Florida Statutes." Appellant
requested that Citizens recalculate the rates for Monroe
County, giving greatest consideration to the projections of
the RMS model (the hurricane model showing the lowest risk
for Monroe County), and reevaluating several factors,
including the county's geography, its construction
standards, and its premium-versus-loss history. Appellant
requested, in the alternative, that Citizens suspend the
effective date of the new rates until after completion of the
two studies discussed in the rate orders.
responded to the letter, stating that it could not provide
relief, because OIR established the rates, not Citizens.
Citizens further noted that section 627.371(1), Florida
Statutes, allows a challenge to a rate, rate plan, or rule
that has been applied, but does not address
challenges to the establishment of a rate.
then filed a complaint with OIR under section 627.371(1),
asserting that its members were "aggrieved by the rating
plan, rating system and related underwriting rules" that
led to the two rate orders. Appellant asserted that the rates
for Monroe County were selected using widely divergent
models, leading to excessive, discriminatory, non-actuarially
sound, and unaffordable rates. Appellant requested that
Citizens be ordered to ...