May 23, 2016 – CBS Miami & The News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders
Insurance regulators are preparing for an appeals-court battle with State Farm Florida after a circuit judge blocked the release of information about the company’s property-insurance policies.
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation filed a notice of appeal last week after Leon County Circuit Judge James Hankinson issued an injunction against the release of the information, which State Farm argued was a “trade secret” protected from public disclosure.
The dispute involves quarterly reports that property insurers file with the state providing information, broken down by county, about issues such as the number of policies in place at the end of each month, the total number of policies canceled, the total number of policies that are not renewed and the number of new policies written.
Regulators have long collected the information and made it publicly available, but State Farm filed a lawsuit in 2014 contending that the information is a trade secret under state law. Hankinson held a trial in March and issued a written order May 2 that said the information, known as a “Quarterly Supplemental Report,” or QUASR, is exempt from disclosure.
Hankinson wrote that a disputed issue is “whether QUASR data has value. The court finds that there is value to the QUASR data. … Accordingly, plaintiff (State Farm) has shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the QUASR data meets the definition of trade secret.”
As is common, the notice of appeal filed Thursday in the 1st District Court of Appeal does not detail the arguments that the Office of Insurance Regulation will pursue in trying to overturn Hankinson’s ruling.
But in a memorandum filed March 4 in circuit court, the Office of Insurance Regulation said it uses the data to create a “comprehensive report” based on submissions from all insurers. [READ MORE]