Citizens Insurance releases internal complaint summaries on bank fraud, gun threat, employee error

sfrater@bradenton.comFebruary 27, 2013 

Citizens Insurance has released a 28-page summary report detailing almost 500 cases of employee error, abuse, crimes and/or misjudgments since 2008.

The release Wednesday, as first reported by the Bradenton Herald, does not mention specific employee's names. But it could have far-reaching implications as the details are examined by the public and media in the coming days.

The move by Citizens is part of a campaign touted by Citizens' President and CEO Barry Gilway to restore public confidence in the state-owned insurer, after a series of embarrassing disclosures involving Citizen employees, including some expense policy violations by Gilway himself.

The online spreadsheet includes brief summaries of complaints and resolutions detailing allegations of illegal gambling, pornography on workplace computers, employee falsification of academic credentials and criminal history, bank fraud, an employee "who drove a corporate vehicle and/or drove on corporate business with a suspended driver license and no auto insurance coverage," and a employee who "threatened to bring a firearm to work and kill the employees that she dislikes."

Not everyone thinks the rehashing of past errors and possible crimes, many of which have been reported previously and occurred as long as four or five years ago, is such a great idea.

"It's water under the dam and I don't know if I'd do it," said Rep. Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka, chair of the House Insurance and Banking subcommittee and an insurance agent himself.

Joe Martins, Citizens Property Insurance Corp.'s top auditor, said a comprehensive review of 474 cases investigated since 2008 found that all complaints were addressed and corrective action taken in accordance with Citizen's policies in place at the time.

The majority of the investigations were prompted by calls and emails submitted by employees to the company's "Tell Citizens" hot line between 2008 and 2012.

"Where we found weaknesses, we are making necessary improvements to strengthen our complaints and disciplinary procedures," said Martins.

In October 2012, a revised complaint intake process was established that specifies Citizens' ethics and compliance officer reviews complaints as they are received and then refers them to the appropriate department. If deemed necessary, they are then sent to the Office of the Internal Auditor. The review was conducted following published concerns over the handling of internal complaints before changes were made last summer.

Gilway said the review is part of a comprehensive effort to identify areas where improvements can be made.

"This review is an important piece of Citizens' ongoing efforts to strengthen internal policies to ensure that our employees are held to the highest standards of corporate integrity," Gilway said.

Other steps taken since last summer include a restructuring of Citizens internal audit capabilities to more closely mirror to corporate best practices. Citizens is also bolstering travel and procurement policies to better conform to state guidelines.

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service