Senate Bill 76 addresses inauthentic lawsuits and runaway attorney fees that add $800 to the cost of property insurance premiums
Tallahassee, Fla. – The Consumer Protection Coalition (CPC) applauded the Florida Senate for voting today to approve Senate Bill 76, a crucial property insurance reform measure that will address the root causes of the crisis plaguing the state’s domestic insurance market. The CPC urged House leaders to work with their Senate counterparts to pass true reforms that protect consumers and address underlying market problems.
“Today’s vote by the Florida Senate is an important step toward assuring that Florida’s consumers have access to affordable and available property insurance coverage by cracking down on a lawsuit feeding frenzy that’s been driven by the lure of giant attorney fee payouts,” said Carolyn Johnson, Senior Director of Business, Economic Development and Innovation Policy at the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which spearheads the CPC. “The Senate has issued a very strong statement that it is ready to protect consumers and address the crisis in our state’s domestic property insurance markets.”
Senate Bill 76, sponsored by Senators Jim Boyd and Jeff Brandes, addresses attorney fee multipliers and other attorney fee provisions that are fueling the explosion of property insurance litigation, reins in questionable solicitations by roofers that are also driving lawsuits, and reasonably reduces the time period for filing a claim from three years to two years to halt questionable claims that are filed years after a loss has occurred.
A recent analysis of Florida’s property insurance market found that roughly 35 percent of the $12 billion in property insurance premiums paid by Florida families is a tax to cover the costs of Florida’s excessive litigation. In 2018, property insurance policyholders were paying a litigation tax of about $656 for every Florida family. In 2020, the litigation tax had risen to about $800.
Florida’s domestic property insurers accumulated a deficit of roughly $1.2 billion in 2020, in large part due to litigation, and experts have warned the current loss trend is both unsustainable and spiraling the market toward collapse. In 2018, there were roughly 45,000 lawsuits filed against property insurers and that number is expected to skyrocket to 200,000 this year.
“Florida alone allows an attorney fee multiplier that results in trial lawyers more than doubling their fees in what are often routine cases,” Johnson added. “While consumers must retain the right to pursue legitimate lawsuits against insurers, Florida’s existing attorney fee statutes have fueled a Wild West lawsuit environment that is hurting consumers and our economy. Senate Bill 76 is the right remedy to address this feeding frenzy.”
The CPC applauded Senators Boyd and Brandes for their hard work in winning passage of Senate Bill 76, and thanked Senate President Wilton Simpson for making property insurance reform a top agenda item in this year’s legislative session.