John Pappas was the senior partner of Florida’s largest property insurance defense firm. He has written a “white paper” about the Florida legislation in HB 305, currently pending in the Florida House. His conclusion is as follows when it comes to frivolous lawsuits and stopping insurance litigation:
The carriers already have a strong and effective Florida Statute that provides them with the ability to limit their exposure to the policyholder claims for attorney fees and litigation costs and even provide the carrier with the ability to collect their own fees and costs incurred from its policyholder. Florida Statute Section 768.79 Offer of judgment and demand for judgment allows the carrier to make an offer of judgment, with or without fees incurred as of the date of the Offer, and if not accepted by the insured, and the resulting judgment is 75 percent or less of the Offer, the policyholder must pay the carrier’s fees and costs. I have made offers pursuant to this statute hundreds of times in behalf of my client/insurers, almost always resulting in a reasonable settlement, including settlement in a reasonable amount for the attorney fees claimed by the policyholders. In about 15 cases my client/insurers were even able to recover their own attorney fees and costs incurred from their policyholder by way of this statute.
The sad part is that HB 305, while taking away policyholder rights, is not as bad as what the Florida Senate has passed in Senate Bill 76. The Florida Senate has declared war on Florida policyholders by passing legislation that lowers coverage, takes away policyholder rights—which is especially harmful to Florida’s senior citizens—and does not lower insurance rates. The Senate bill does nothing for policyholders and caves to all the insurance industry’s self-serving and profit motivated demands. I don’t know that insurance executives could have dreamed of a bill they would like more.
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