Consumer Protection Coalition applauds Florida Legislature for tackling lawsuit frenzy that is fueling the state’s property insurance crisis
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Dec. 14, 2022) – The Consumer Protection Coalition applauded the Florida Legislature for taking decisive action in this week’s special session to eliminate persistent lawsuit abuses that have fueled a property insurance crisis in the state and for taking other important steps to aid consumers and stabilize the marketplace.
Building on reforms passed in recent sessions, legislators eliminated the one-way attorney fees that have incentivized billboard trial attorneys to file tens of thousands of frivolous property insurance lawsuits in recent years. They also eliminated Assignment of Benefits (AOB) provisions that unscrupulous contractors have used repeatedly to take advantage of unsuspecting policyholders, while also streamlining the claims process and increasing transparency for homeowners.
The Consumer Protection Coalition thanked legislators for stepping up this week and supporting consumers in the special session, and in particular praised Senator Jim Boyd, the chief sponsor of Senate Bill 2A, along with Governor Ron DeSantis, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker Paul Renner for their leadership on critical property insurance market issues.
“Florida’s toxic litigation environment has contributed to seven insurer insolvencies over the past two years and made it increasingly difficult for hardworking Florida families to secure affordable insurance coverage needed to protect their homes, even as we’ve faced direct hits from severe storms,” said Carolyn Johnson, Vice President of Government Affairs at the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and a spokesperson for the Consumer Protection Coalition.
“The Consumer Protection Coalition applauds the Florida Legislature for putting consumers first by passing a reform package that addresses the root causes of the problems that have destabilized the property insurance market and hurt consumers,” Johnson added. “While there is always more work to be done and the property insurance market won’t be fixed overnight, these reforms will go a long way to stabilize it and improve the outlook for policyholders.”
Senate Bill 2A, sponsored by Senator Jim Boyd, was passed by the Senate on Tuesday and by the House on Wednesday afternoon. It is expected Gov. DeSantis will sign the legislation when it hits his desk. Upon his signature, the sweeping reform package will:
End one-way attorney fees for property insurance, which have been a key driver of frivolous property insurance lawsuits;
Abolish AOB agreements, which have allowed bad actors to take control of a consumer’s insurance benefits and sue their insurance company, often without the consumer’s knowledge or consent;
Take steps to return Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to its intended purpose as the insurer of last resort and reduce the potential that Florida’s policyholders face assessments on multiple lines of insurance if Citizens faces hurricane losses so large it runs out of money to pay claims;
Provide additional state-backed reinsurance coverage to private insurers, which ultimately leads to more insurers in the market and more coverage options for consumers; and
Streamline the claims process and increase transparency to improve the market for consumers.
While Florida’s property insurance market has faced challenges for years, worsening conditions have led state lawmakers to hold two special sessions in 2022. Currently, Floridians pay nearly three times the national average for their property insurance coverage. And Citizens, the insurer of last resort, has grown to 1.131 million policies as insurer insolvencies and other insurers leaving the market have led to fewer coverage options for consumers.
At the core of the market dysfunction is the man-made catastrophe of Florida’s property insurance litigation environment, which is unlike any other state in the country. Even though Florida accounted for approximately 7 percent of all homeowners’ insurance claims nationally, it accounted for 76 percent of homeowners’ insurance litigation. Many state lawmakers have been alarmed by this trend and while previous attempts at reform have tackled the issue incrementally, it became clear to legislative leaders that more comprehensive solutions were needed to protect consumers. The passage of Senate Bill 2A is an important step taken to protect Floridians.
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The Consumer Protection Coalition is a broad-based group of business leaders, consumer advocates, real estate agents, construction contractors, insurance agents and insurance trade groups pushing for reforms to end Assignment of Benefits (AOB) abuse. Learn more about the Coalition at www.FightFraud.Today, follow the Coalition on Twitter @CPC_FL and “like” our page at FB.com/consumerprotectioncoalition.
Megan Sweat Florida Chamber of Commerce firstname.lastname@example.org