NU Online News Service, Dec. 10, 12:45 p.m. – The Florida House of Representatives is considering a bill that could create a new Department of Insurance and Financial Services, replacing the current Department of Insurance and the Department of Banking and Finance with a single agency.

The bill, HB 577, was introduced recently by Rep. Mark G. Flanagan, R-Bradenton, and is being discussed by several state House committees, including those for banking and for insurance.

Commissioners of insurance and financial services would continue to exist, along with most of their current staff and services, but they would be placed under the authority of a single executive director, to be appointed by the governor.

Some duties of the existing departments would be shifted to other agencies under the bill. The authority of the DOI authority to investigate insurance fraud, for instance, would be transferred to the state Department of Law Enforcement.

If the bill were enacted, the provisions would be phased in. The bill would take full effect Jan. 7, 2003.