Florida Progress Attacks Crawford Letter

Article excerpt

Mid-Continent Life's parent company charges Insurance Commissioner John Crawford misled its policyholders in a mass mailing earlier this month.

Filing a motion in Oklahoma County District Court, Florida Progress alleges Crawford's letter to Mid-Continent policyholders incorrectly stated that Florida Progress could not raise premiums on 155,000 so-called extra-life policies.

The motion also states that Crawford's letter directly contravened a court order permitting policyholders to replace policies. But Crawford argues Florida Progress has ulterior motives in filing the motion. "This motion has nothing to do with resolving this matter with policyholders and everything to do with fattening Florida Progress' bottom line," Crawford said in a prepared statement. Crawford took control of the 99-year-old life insurance company in April. Policyholders had complained to the department that Mid- Continent announced premium hikes, although marketing materials said rates would not change. Mid-Continent currently is operating at a $348 million deficit. Crawford sued St. Petersburg-based Florida Progress in December, charging breach of fiduciary duty and state law violations against directors and former Mid-Continent executives. Crawford said this latest motion is a stall tactic. "After months of malicious interference with the duties of this office, it comes as no surprise that Florida Progress continues to invent new half-truths to delay the case," Crawford said. In a hearing earlier this month, Judge James Blevins warned parties to proceed quickly in the case, in the interest of policyholders. Florida Progress, a $5. …