440.525 Examination and investigation of carriers and claims-handling entities.—
(1) The department and office may examine, or investigate any carrier, third-party administrator, servicing agent, or other claims-handling entity as often as is warranted to ensure that it is fulfilling its obligations under this chapter.
(2) An examination may cover any period of the carrier’s, third-party administrator’s, servicing agent’s, or other claims-handling entity’s operations since the last previous examination. An investigation based upon a reasonable belief by the department that a material violation of this chapter has occurred may cover any time period, but may not predate the last examination by more than 5 years. The department may by rule establish procedures, standards, and protocols for examinations and investigations. If the department finds any violation of this chapter, it may impose administrative penalties pursuant to this chapter. If the department finds any self-insurer in violation of this chapter, it may take action pursuant s. 440.38(3). Examinations or investigations by the department may address, but are not limited to addressing, patterns or practices of unreasonable delay in claims handling; timeliness and accuracy of payments and reports under ss. 440.13, 440.16, and 440.185; or patterns or practices of harassment, coercion, or intimidation of claimants. The department may also specify by rule the documentation to be maintained for each claim file.
(3) As to any examination or investigation conducted under this chapter, the department shall have the power to conduct onsite inspections of claims records and documentation of a carrier, third-party administrator, servicing agent, or other claims-handling entity, and conduct interviews, both sworn and unsworn, of claims-handling personnel. Carriers, third-party administrators, servicing agents, and other claims-handling entities shall make all claims records, documentation, communication, and correspondence available to department personnel during regular business hours. If any person fails to comply with a request for production of records or documents or fails to produce an employee for interview, the department may compel production or attendance by subpoena. The results of an examination or investigation shall be provided to the carrier, third-party administrator, servicing agent, or other claims-handling entity in a written report setting forth the basis for any violations that are asserted. Such report is agency action for purposes of chapter 120, and the aggrieved party may request a proceeding under s. 120.57 with regard to the findings and conclusion of the report.
(4) If the department finds that violations of this chapter have occurred, the department may impose an administrative penalty upon the offending entity or entities. For each offending entity, such penalties shall not exceed $2,500 for each pattern or practice constituting nonwillful violation and shall not exceed an aggregate amount of $10,000 for all nonwillful violations arising out of the same action. If the department finds a pattern of practice that constitutes a willful violation, the department may impose an administrative penalty upon each offending entity not to exceed $20,000 for each willful pattern or practice. Such fines shall not exceed $100,000 for all willful violations arising out of the same action. No penalty assessed under this section may be recouped by any carrier in the rate base, the premium, or any rate filing. Any administrative penalty imposed under this section for a nonwillful violation shall not duplicate an administrative penalty imposed under another provision of this chapter or the insurance code. The department may adopt rules to implement this section. The department shall adopt penalty guidelines by rule to set penalties under this chapter.
History.—s. 51, ch. 93-415; s. 52, ch. 2002-194; s. 494, ch. 2003-261; s. 32, ch. 2003-412.