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Administrative Law Judge Declares FHCF Request for Street Addresses Invalid

Administrative Law Judge Declares FHCF Request for Street Addresses Invalid

An administrative law judge has ruled that a Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund (FHCF) data call request for insurers’ street address data by policy is invalid because the request exceeds the FHCF’s deleted legislative authority.  Insurers submit data call responses to the FHCF each year containing details about the residential insurance policies they write.  Historically, the policy location information has not been any more detailed than the ZIP code level, which limited insurers’ concerns with providing the data (particularly in light of specific confidentiality provisions set forth in statutes governing the FHCF).

This year, the FHCF added a requirement for insurers to submit the street addresses of their insured properties.  The FHCF did not receive any objections or comments when it adopted the new requirement in rulemaking proceedings.  Nonetheless, some insurers became concerned with the requirement as the reporting deadline approached and the implications of the new request were better understood.  This ultimately led to a challenge being filed by an association of Florida-based residential insurers.

The administrative law judge hearing the challenge noted that while the industry’s silence during rulemaking proceedings undermined its claims about the importance of the street level data, there are plenty of other indicators that the confidentiality of street level data is critical in a highly competitive business such as residential insurance.  A considerable portion of the judge’s decision relates to whether the association had standing to bring the challenge notwithstanding that most of its members provided the street level data.  The judge determined that the association’s members are affected not only by having to provide the data but also by the risk associated with another party’s (the FHCF’s) ongoing retention of that data.  The judge therefore found that the challenge was properly brought.  He then determined that statutes governing the FHCF contemplate insurers’ providing data at the ZIP code level but do not authorize the collection of more specific street level data.

If it chooses to do so, the FHCF may file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the judge’s October 9 order.