If it’s a day that ends in “Y,” then it’s a day that we are dealing with frivolous and fraudulent litigation in Florida. From sinkholes to water damage to auto glass — Florida families pay thousands of dollars a year in a lawsuit abuse tax — nefarious and corrupt trial attorneys clog up our court system and cause insurance premiums to spike as they line their pockets.
It’s a tragedy that hurts families, small businesses, homeowners, and everyday Floridians.
And it’s completely avoidable.
The latest iteration goes something like this — an unsuspecting homeowner receives a flier advertising a free roof inspection. Sometimes with the promise of a free Amazon gift card as an incentive.
Unsuspecting homeowner takes the bait, and a contractor (in bed with a trial attorney) conducts an “inspection” and promises a new roof will be installed. Just sign here and your insurance company will take care of everything.
After the work is done, the claim is filed, and when the insurance company (rightly) refuses the claim they get sued.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
As a result of this ongoing game, property insurance premiums are spiking in the Sunshine State, and the future holds even more concern. As the issue gets worse, our state-run property insurance provider — Citizens Property Insurance Corporation — is taking on 4,000 new policies a week and growing.
This is after several years of a successful depopulation effort to bring the market back from the brink of insolvency after the 2004-2005 hurricane season.
Lawsuit abuse is a cottage industry in Florida. The formula has been used to the detriment of Floridians for years and has made Florida — a state that gets so much correct on policy — a litigation nightmare and one of the worst states for frivolous lawsuits in the U.S.
Thankfully, Florida policymakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis continue to push ahead with their efforts to stop the abuse of our court system and bring relief to families. There are policy solutions to this dilemma.
End one-way attorney fees and contingency multipliers that create a situation in which nefarious trial attorneys are able to rig the system and siphon millions from Floridians simply trying to make it day-to-day. Sen. Jim Boyd’s reasonable and common-sense proposal to bring homeowners relief is being heard by the full Senate and Rep. Bob Rommel’s companion is now moving through the committee process in the Florida House.
These proposals will help address the nightmare scenarios ahead if nothing is done — skyrocketing property insurance rates and vulnerable Floridians left with little hope as they struggle to make ends meet.
The Sunshine State gets the vast majority of policy decisions correct. As a result, more than 800 people a day move here to get their piece of the prosperity.
We’ve illustrated that free markets and a limited regulatory footprint can deliver far more wealth and success than any bureaucratic idea.
When it comes to our litigation environment, however, corruption and fraud have been allowed to reign far too long.
It’s our hope that the wisdom of our elected officials in other policy arenas will carry to our property insurance market and we won’t leave homeowners out in the cold.
Sal Nuzzo is the vice president of Policy at The James Madison Institute.