Gov. Rick Scott will interview state Rep. Bill Hager, R-Delray Beach, for the post of Florida Insurance Commissioner today at 2:15 p.m., according to the governor’s schedule.
As The Palm Beach Post reported, Hager’s application notes he was Iowa’s insurance commissioner from 1986 to 1990 and most recently has worked as president and founder of Insurance Metrics Corp. in Boca Raton. His work there has included “providing expert witness testimony in complex insurance cases” and arbitrating reinsurance disputes.
“After careful consideration with my family, I am pleased to submit my application for the Florida Commissioner of Insurance vacancy,” Hager wrote in a letter to Scott and the Cabinet. “I have spent a significant portion of my life dedicated to public service, much of it within the context of insurance regulation, and believe that the position of Commissioner of Insurance presents a unique opportunity to continue this important work.”
Hager sponsored a bill that just passed to help families get life insurance benefits they are owed. As his candidacy advances, he is also drawing questions about how well he can pivot from soliciting business from companies he could soon be regulating and his support of legislation that would have raised consumer costs by reducing the size of the state’s hurricane fund.
State law requires that must candidates must have, within the past 10 years, at least five years of relevant private sector experience or five years years in senior government regulatory work overseeing insurance.
The Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund provides back-up coverage to insurance companies that tends to be less expensive than private-sector alternatives, keeping consumer premiums lower. Hager has defended legislation to shrink the state fund as a move to protect Floridians against a “hurricane tax” — assessments that could be needed to shore up the fund after particularly severe storms.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, meanwhile, has been interviewing today four current employees of the state insurance office: Chief of Staff Belinda Miller, Chief Actuary Eric Johnson and deputy commissioners Rich Robleto and David Altmaier.
Atwater is scheduled to speak Wednesday to seven candidates including Hager and John Rollins, chief risk officer at state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
On Monday Scott talked to Altmaier and Jeffrey Bragg, who served from 2003 to 2014 as executive director of the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Terrorism Risk Insurance Program.
In all, 55 candidates have applied to replace Kevin McCarty, who announced he is leaving the post in early May. His replacement will be appointed by the four Florida Cabinet members, and the governor and CFO must agree. The Cabinet next meets March 29.
Want to get the inside story? You can listen to the Cabinet aides meeting Wednesday at 9 a.m. — where issues related to the insurance commissioner may come up — by way of the The Florida Channel.