Florida Insurance Commissioner Resigns, Gives No Reasons or Future Plans

December 15, 2022 by

Florida’s insurance commissioner on Thursday announced his resignation, effective Dec. 28, surprising some in the industry despite rumors that have swirled for the past few days.

David Altmaier, who has been in the role since 2016, during one of the most turbulent insurance markets in Florida history, gave no reasons in the letter he sent to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. But Tallahassee insiders suggested that Altmaier may be stepping down before a new law takes effect Jan. 1, which bars regulatory agency heads from engaging in lobbying activity for at least six years.

By resigning now, Altmaier will be subject to just a two-year ban. At least three other officials with Florida government agencies have made similar moves in recent weeks.

The resignation came one day after the Florida Legislature approved a sweeping reform bill that aims to stabilize the market. Among other changes, it moves to limit the vast amount of insurance claims litigation, which insurers have blamed for driving up premiums and driving some carriers into insolvency.

Altmaier noted the accomplishment in his letter to DeSantis.

“Under your leadership we have worked with the Florida Legislature to meet historic challenges with historic reforms, we have come together to respond to catastrophes, and we’ve implemented rules and regulations that have safeguarded Florida’s insurance consumers while keeping our insurance markets viable,” the letter to the governor said.

Altmaier took over the commissioner job from Kevin McCarty, who had held the position for 11 years. A former mathematics teacher and a Kentucky insurance agent for a short stint, Altmaier began work at the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation in 2008 and has worked as an analyst and as deputy commissioner.

He said in his letter that when he moved to Florida, he did not anticipate staying long-term.

“However, I instantly fell in love with the community of Tallahassee and the state,” he wrote. “I did not imagine then that I would ever have the honor of serving all 20 million Floridians in the capacity that I have for the past six and a half years. It is an honor that will be extraordinarily difficult to replicate in my future career aspirations.”

He did not say what those career aspirations may be and his did not provide further information on Altmaier’s plans, or answer questions about the reasons for his resignation.

“We sincerely thank and congratulate Commissioner Altmaier for nearly 15 years of public service, dedication, and leadership to OIR and the State of Florida,” Communications Director Samantha Bequer said in an email.

Altmaier was known for demanding deeper cuts in workers’ compensation rates than the National Council on Compensation Insurance had recommended, almost every year he was in office. But he also sustained criticism from some lawmakers and insurance executives for not doing more to manage Florida’s property insurance crisis or to solicit more input from insurance companies. During his tenure, OIR approved several significant rate increase requests from property insurers, angering policyholders.

Legislators and lobbyists have pointed out that the office is bound by state law to ensure that rates are actuarially sound but not excessive – a tricky task, particularly in Florida’s distressed insurance market Even with rate hikes, six insurers were deemed insolvent this year.

One company’s actions illustrated the conundrum the insurance regulator found himself in: After Florida Farm Bureau in December 2021 requested an eye-popping 41% increase in homeowners policies, the OIR asked company actuaries to review their data and try again.

They did – and came back with a filing for a 49% increase.

“It’s a difficult job,” one insurance consultant said. “He has to balance a lot of interests, keep the market on solid ground, for a lot of lines of insurance, and think about consumer protections. Someone is always going to be upset.”

Altmaier also has his supporters. He was elected president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2021 and received kudos for his leadership.

The resignation is the second this month by a high-level official at the Office of Insurance Regulation. Longtime Deputy Commissioner Susanne Murphy stepped down in early December to become a consultant at Meenan PA, a regulatory law and lobbying firm in Tallahassee, according to news reports.

Few names have been floated so far about who might replace Altmaier. The commissioner’s position is appointed by the Florida Cabinet, made up of the state’s chief financial officer, the state attorney general and the agriculture commissioner. All of those elected officers are Republicans and have shown that they agree with DeSantis on most issues.

Related: 2017 Interview with Altmaier