By: Nancy Baumann, Agents' Section Chair, Sun Title Insurance Agency
This is a challenging time of year for Florida Title Agents. In addition to having to constantly adjust to the continuing demands of rapidly changing technology, Cyber Security, Identity Theft, Fraud, Protection of Escrow Funds and for the last five years we have been struggling with the Dreaded Data Call.
What it is. The Florida Data Call for title agents was created in 2014 by the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR). Its stated purpose is to collect revenue, loss and expense data from every title agency in the state to assist the OIR in the analysis of title insurance premium rates, title search costs and the overall condition of the title insurance industry in Florida. Every one of us is required to maintain data on a calendar year basis and to submit this detailed financial information annually to the OIR not later than May 31 each year. So, data for the first applicable calendar year, 2014, was due June 1, 2015 and now it is due by May 31, 2019. Failure to timely submit all data required of an agent is punishable by fines, other penalties and even the potential loss of an agent’s license.
Those darned reports. The Office has promulgated forms we are required to use for our reporting. The reports require us to fit all of our financial data into accounts that the Office has defined. The earliest forms promulgated for the annual reports were confusing at best. We believe that led to the transmission to the OIR of inaccurate information. Since then, FLTA has provided technical expertise to the Office in an effort to make the data collection more accurate and to make compliance by us easier. Our work has seen results.
FLTA working for you. While Data Call compliance can still be burdensome, it has gotten better with the help of our association. Shelley Stewart is the chair of the FLTA Data Call Committee. She has spent many hours giving assistance to OIR in-person in Tallahassee, on the telephone and in emails. She has been working on and refining the reports the law requires of us. Her goals are to be sure the data collected reflects all the good work title agents do to earn their commissions and fees and to ease the burden on agents for data collection and reporting. In a 2015 report, OIR has referred to the input of FLTA agents and underwriters as “tremendous help.” View the recommended redline report by FLTA delivered to OIR earlier in January.
Don’t harm yourself. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has noted that data calls in other states do not fully capture the agent experience as it pertains to items caught and corrected prior to issuance of a title insurance policy. That could lead to undercompensating insurance agents who could see the states cut their rates. At the specific request of title agents, most of whom are members of FLTA, the OIR included in its Data Call a Schedule B, designed to “capture the agent experience as it pertains to items caught and corrected prior to issuance of policy.” But, here is the rub: If agents do not take the time to fully prepare their respective Schedule Bs, that information will not make it into the Data Call, the regulators will not fully see what you do to earn your portion of the title insurance premium, and you could see your revenue being cut by the state. So, please, take every bit of your Data Call reporting seriously. Fully provide the information the report calls for. Your livelihood depends on it as does the health of the title industry in Florida.
More information. You can get the current Data Call forms from the Office of Insurance Regulation website and FLTA has also prepared webinars and other information to help you with your compliance with this law.