Florida’s legislature has been called back for a special session starting December 12 regarding the most current insurance crisis. Attorneys, contractors, public adjusters, and policyholders have been calling me, asking what is going to happen and what is on the table.
These are the various topics that have been raised or told to me by various lobbyists and politicians:
- Assignment of Benefits (AOB)
- One-Way Attorney Fees
- Contractor Solicitation
- Public Adjuster Solicitation
- Bad Faith Lawsuits
Any laws passed will undoubtedly impact policyholders. The number of insurance companies declaring insolvency and the huge spike in insurance rates has resulted in calls for Florida politicians to do something about the crisis. If they could only legislate away hurricanes, the problems would go away. California and Colorado face the same decrease in available insurance because of a massive increase in wildfires over the past several years.
At the same time, many Florida policyholders with significant insurance claims from Hurricane Ian and Nicole are learning what to expect by waiting for fair treatment from their insurance carriers. Slow and low payment for far less than the full amount allegedly owed is the new normal for treatment by many carriers who hire outside catastrophe adjusters to adjust claims. A number of independent adjusters who have quit tell me horror stories about how their field estimates are wrongly reduced by desk adjusters and company mandates.
So, what do insurance companies want so they will not be held accountable for their shabby treatment of policyholders and make their profits a certainty? Do away with AOBs, establish loser pays attorney fees or no attorney fees, place more caps on public adjuster fees, make new regulations for independent restoration contractors while reducing liability for managed repair contractors operating under insurer guidelines, make Florida a backstop for public supported low reinsurance rates, and do away with bad faith accountability. This is the agenda of the insurance lobby.
Over the past several weeks, I have been working with a number of policyholder attorneys and our firm’s lobbyists. Merlin Law Group attorney Javier Delgado has made suggestions regarding language for legislation working with the Florida Justice Association. FAPIA’s lobbyist, Paul Handerhan, and others have been working behind the scenes. But what may happen is anybody’s guess.
The laws passed over the last three years have taken time to impact the insurance market. One recent law regarding building ordinances will significantly increase litigation because some insurers are abusing the new law.
What will happen? I expect that we will learn more about the backroom agreements later this week. You can always make lower rates by changing laws, so insurers never have to promptly and fully pay for losses—and prevent them from being sued when they do. Stay tuned.
Thought For The Day
The world is not going to be saved by legislation.
—William Howard Taft