Director of Media Relations
Florida Chamber of Commerce
The Consumer Protection Coalition (CPC) today applauded Governor Ron DeSantis for understanding the negative impact Florida’s property insurance crisis is having on consumers and for prompting legislators to address the frenzy of meritless litigation at the heart of the market meltdown.
The CPC, which is spearheaded by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, lauded Governor DeSantis for his willingness to call legislators back into a special session this week in Tallahassee, and for pressing lawmakers to take some significant steps forward toward reining in the attorney fee jackpots and legal system gaming that have led Florida to have the worst property insurance litigation environment in the U.S.
“Recognizing the severity of the crisis, Governor DeSantis repeatedly called on the Legislature to take up and pass significant property insurance reforms during the 2022 Regular Session. When those reforms failed to materialize, Governor DeSantis once again turned words into action, unilaterally calling the Legislature back into Special Session and driving consensus on a substantial agenda,” said William Large, president of the Florida Justice Reform Institute, and a member of the CPC. “The proposed property insurance reform legislation will go a long way towards getting to the heart of escalating rates and limited coverage – lawsuit abuse.”
The CPC also praised state Senator Jim Boyd and state Representative Jay Trumbull for their hard work in developing the compromise legislation being debated this week, and Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier for providing critical marketplace data and counsel for legislators to act upon.
Building upon property insurance litigation reform efforts passed by the Legislature in 2019 and 2021, the bills being steered by Governor DeSantis take additional steps to halt Florida’s homeowners’ insurance litigation frenzy. These include eliminating attorney fees when property insurance claims are assigned to a third party such as a home repair contractor, restricting contingency fee multipliers to “rare and exceptional cases,” and requiring that trial attorneys prove an insurer breached its contract with the policyholder as a condition for prevailing in a bad faith lawsuit.
While it remains to be seen if these tort reform provisions survive expected court challenges, they are positive steps forward in reducing meritless litigation that consumers ultimately pay for. But with Florida’s insurance regulator reporting that the state accounts for only eight percent of all homeowners’ insurance claims in the U.S. – but 79 percent of all the homeowners’ insurance claim litigation – it is likely that additional property insurance litigation reforms will be required in the future.
“Litigation drives losses and losses drive rate increases. With Florida accounting for 79% of the nation’s homeowners’ insurance lawsuits over claims filed while making up only 8% of the nation’s homeowners’ insurance claims, it is clear Florida has a litigation problem that is costing Florida ratepayers when they can least afford it. The necessary lawsuit abuse reforms put forth by Senator Boyd and Representative Trumbull in SB 2D/HB 1D will help build the infrastructure for a stabler and more competitive insurance market. We thank Governor Ron DeSantis for his leadership in calling this special session to stand up for consumers and tackle the root causes driving up property insurance rates.”
Additionally, it will take time to determine how some of the other consumer and reinsurance provisions in the package of bills impact the marketplace – and ultimately the availability and cost of property insurance for consumers. But Governor DeSantis’ targeted approach in working to fix Florida’s property insurance woes stand in sharp contrast to the state’s last special session on property insurance in 2007, which led to massive expansions of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, versus addressing the root causes of a dysfunctional marketplace.