A group dedicated to curbing insurance litigation praised Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday for calling on lawmakers to rein in “attorney fee jackpots” in property insurance lawsuits.
The Consumer Protection Coalition, which is spearheaded by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, also praised the Governor for ordering a Special Session to address the property insurance crisis, which has been marked by rising premiums and several insurers either exiting the Florida market or entering receivership.
The CPC and many of its member organizations blame the market’s tailspin on a glut of lawsuits. The instability is complex, however, Florida does have a high volume of property insurance lawsuits — a report from the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation found that Florida accounted for less than a tenth of homeowners’ insurance claims but more than three-quarters of all homeowners’ litigation in the United States.
“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 Sen. Jim Boyd and Rep. Jay Trumbull, both Republicans, for their role in developing the property insurance package under consideration during the Special Session and Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier “for providing critical marketplace data and counsel for legislators to act upon.”
The organization specifically highlighted provisions in the reform package that would eliminate attorney fees if a policy is signed over to a third party — a practice known as “Assignment of Benefits” (AOB). CPC also praised provisions that would limit contingency fee multipliers to “rare and exceptional cases” and require trial attorneys to prove an insurer breached its contract with the policyholder as a condition for prevailing in a bad faith lawsuit.
“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,” a CPC news release said.
“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.”