Make us your home page
Instagram

Citizens Insurance names new president

TALLAHASSEE — In a unanimous vote Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott's neighbor and political ally was forced out of his position as interim president of Citizens Property Insurance.

Tom Grady, who advocated a controversial agenda of risk reduction and rate increases during his short run as head of Citizens, will be replaced by Barry Gilway, an insurance industry veteran from Maryland.

The vote by Citizens' board represents an affront to Scott, who picked Grady to run the Office of Financial Regulation last year and counted him as an ally in the effort to shrink Citizens. As Citizens has advanced an aggressive campaign to raise rates and reduce coverage for homeowners, Grady expressed support for a controversial plan to uncap rates for new customers.

Citizens' presidential search committee opted to pass over Grady, one of five candidates vying for the job of permanent president.

When John Wortman, a committee member and Scott appointee, made a motion to revive Grady's candidacy, Citizens' board chairman Carlos Lacasa interjected, asserting that he was not one of the top candidates identified by a search firm. Grady, 54, from Naples, is a friend of Scott and has been a prominent fundraiser for the Republican Party.

Wortman's motion failed, effectively killing Grady's chances of leading Citizens long term.

"I think it says volumes about the board that they let the process work, without picking favorites," said Lisa Miller, CEO of Lisa Miller & Associates and a former deputy insurance commissioner for Florida. "Tom (Grady) was super when he was there, but he couldn't argue with the credentials that were required for the job."

Sean Shaw, founder of the Policyholders of Florida, said Gilway's hiring represents an opportunity to take some of the political influences out of Citizens.

"We are hopeful that Mr. Gilway will work with consumer advocates to implement balanced, responsible policies and shun the political motivations that have threatened both policyholders and our delicate housing recovery," Shaw said in a statement.

Gilway, 66, has more than 40 years of insurance industry experience, most recently with Seattle-based Mattei Insurance Services. Prior to that, he worked at Zurich North America, serving as an executive vice president at the global insurance firm.

In an interview with Citizens' board, Gilway said his experience turning around Zurich's Canadian subsidiaries — which had suffered from poor results and a negative public image — would be useful at Florida's state-run insurer.

"One of the reasons you should consider me, is, frankly, I've done this before," Gilway said, adding that he went on a two-year "apology tour" to rebuild the company's image.

During the public interview, Gilway acknowledged that reforming Citizens would be the most difficult undertaking of his career.

Citizens was created to be the insurer of last resort, but is currently Florida's largest property insurer, with more than 1.4 million policies.

In the past several months, its board has sought creative ways to reduce in size and raise premiums beyond the 10-percent rate cap established by the Legislature.

Gilway spoke cautiously when asked about his thoughts on insurance rates.

"Rates are not adequate within (certain) counties," he said, before acknowledging that "if rates were taken to full adequacy in those counties, it has the potential of completely destroying both home building and retail sales."

He said he was in favor of a "mechanism" that would lead to higher rates over time.

Gilway's starting date and compensation terms have not been finalized.

Toluse Olorunnipa can be reached at tolorunnipa@MiamiHerald.com and on Twitter @ToluseO

Citizens Insurance names new president 06/13/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 5:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. United Airlines CEO to investors: We'll be more focused on customers

    Airlines

    CHICAGO — The CEO of United Airlines assured shareholders Wednesday that the company is doing all it can to be more customer-friendly since video surfaced of a passenger being violently ejected from a plane last month.

    Chicago Police arrest protesters after they sat down in a busy street blocking traffic outside a United Airlines shareholders meeting Wednesday, in downtown Chicago. The people who were arrested were protesting the low pay of employees of companies that provide meals and other services for United Airlines at Chicago's O'Hare Airport.
[Associated Press]
  2. Humana adding 200 telemarketing jobs in Tampa Bay

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Health insurance company Humana Inc. is hiring more than 200 workers in Tampa Bay. The Louisville, Ky.-based company said Wednesday that the new positions will focus on phone sales for Humana's direct marketing services department.

  3. Tampa Bay home prices still soaring amid tight supply

    Real Estate

    Sales of Tampa Bay homes dropped in April but prices surged yet again as Florida's real estate market continued to be defined by tight supply and high demand.

    The historic Century Oaks estate overlooking Clearwater Harbor has sold for $11.18 million, the most ever paid for a home in the Tampa Bay area. [Courtesy: Coastal Properties Group]
  4. These days, don't hit the theme park without an app and a phone charger

    Florida

    Emile Crawford stocks two back-up phone battery chargers these days when she takes her kids to Disney World. But she dare not venture into a theme park without a smart phone app, an accessory becoming as necessary as sunscreen in Florida theme parks.

    A wristband visitors will wear at the new Volcano Bay water park in Orlando, Florida. The wristband, called Tapu Tapu, tells you when it's your turn to get on a ride. It also lets you pay for food so you don't have to carry a wallet and opens lockers so you don't have to  carry a key. (Universal via AP)
  5. James Cameron, Zoe Saldana and more appear at Disney's Pandora

    Florida

    ORLANDO — As he stood on a stage at Disney World Wednesday, director James Cameron revealed his teenage dreams.

    Zoe Saldana tweeted a photo of herself from Wednesday's appearance at a new land in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Pandora -- the World of Avatar. The land is based on James Cameron film, in which she stars. Photo via Twitter.