Florida Homeowners File 76% of Property Insurance Lawsuits in US, Report Says
Nearly three-quarters of all U.S. lawsuits by homeowners against their property insurance companies have been brought in Florida, according to a new report, as state lawmakers consider reforms to the system.
The report suggests litigation is driving higher insurance costs in a state that has seen insurers raise homeowner rates by 30% or more.
In 2019, Florida homeowners accounted for 76% of these lawsuits, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation report. The study also found that residents of the state filed just 8% of all property insurance claims in the country that year.
OIR Commissioner David Altmaier presented the new statistics in a letter dated April 2 to Representative Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, Chairman of the House Commerce Committee, a document intended to complement an OIR report sent to the committee. in February.
Using data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, of which Altmaier is also president, the agency found that Florida has been responsible for more than 60% of property insurance disputes nationwide since at least 2016. The letter did not provide any information on previous years, and 2019 was the most recent data available.
The February report identified “costly litigation” as one of the main drivers of rising insurance premiums in the state. Last year, the OIR approved rate hikes of more than 30% for some insurance companies. Businesses only need to seek approval if they want to increase their rates by more than 15%.
Altmaier’s letter also said the ratio of claims closed without payment in Florida to lawsuits opened was 27%, eight times higher than the next state, Connecticut, where the ratio was 3.4%. This means that more Florida homeowners are suing after failing to receive payment for their claim than in any other state by an eight-to-one margin.
The increase in litigation in Florida has led many private insurers to abandon their policies along the coasts and in Central Florida, where industry leaders say contractors and other agents have been directly solicit claims for roof damage from homeowners.
The problem has led to a policy explosion for state-run Citizens Property Insurance, a situation which last year led Citizens CEO Barry Gilway to call Florida’s insurance market ” unhealthy â.
Altmaier’s letter concludes by suggesting solutions that lawmakers could consider to reduce the number of cases. They include measures such as reducing attorney fees to make lawsuits less attractive to attorneys and changing laws to reduce the number of roofing claims.
Some of these ideas appear in HB 305, introduced in January by Rep. Bob Rommel, R-Naples. The bill also seeks to stem the practices of contractors and independent agents who, according to experts, are behind the increase in rooftop claims.
But lawyers such as Morgan & Morgan’s Mark Nation say the bill’s measures will hurt homeowners by limiting access to the courts.
“Do you think there are a lot of denials now?” Nation said in an interview Sentinel last year. âDo you think if people like me didn’t exist. “
In the House earlier this month, the bill went to the Trade Committee, on which Rommel sits. A related bill, SB 76, was passed by the Senate on April 9.