Two recent articles, Insurers Gave Ron DeSantis Millions. He Made It Harder to Sue Them, and DeSantis’ New Insurance Law Could Make It Harder to Rebuild After Hurricane Idalia, underscore how new insurance laws, supported by deals DeSantis made with Florida’s insurance industry, will make it more difficult for common folks to force insurance companies to pay what is owed. These articles correctly noted:
The sweeping revisions makes it more difficult for homeowners to sue their property insurance companies for acting in ‘bad faith’ and removes the right of homeowners to recover attorney’s fees, even in lawsuits they ultimately win. Additionally, the adjustments to Florida’s insurance laws allow insurance companies to create new policies with mandatory binding arbitration agreements in exchange for a premium reduction, which will also thwart many homeowners’ option to take insurers to court…Moreover, the legislation shortened the window in which policy holders can file claims with their insurers, invested $1 billion of taxpayer funds into a state-run reinsurance fund to help insurance companies mitigate their losses in the event of catastrophic events, and narrowed eligibility for Citizens, Florida’s state-run nonprofit insurance company that provides insurance to people who cannot find affordable coverage on the regular market.
The articles specifically state the financial contributions these insurers made to DeSantis:
Insurance industry employees donated at least $3.9 million to his gubernatorial race and to the ‘Friends of Ron DeSantis’ political committee between January 2018 and December 2022. Additionally, a Heritage Insurance subsidiary and People’s Trust Insurance together donated a total of $125,000 to DeSantis’s 2023 inaugural celebration, according to a May 2023 report by the American Federation of Teachers union and three other advocacy groups.
The new laws pushed through by the Florida-controlled Republican legislature encourage insurance companies to delay paying on claims and to never fully pay a claim. Who is going to find a lawyer to sue an insurance company for the last 10% owed of a $125,000 claim with the new laws that are in place? Indeed, delay works towards the insurance companies never paying replacement cost values because delayed claims payments result in delayed replacement – past the time frames allowed in the policy to collect replacement costs. Delay and underpayments are motivated under the new laws supported by DeSantis. These work in favor of the insurance companies in the most devilish ways, as it is practically impossible to stop it and hold the insurance companies accountable because the new laws protect the wrongdoers.
Amy Bach of United Policyholders was quoted and summed it up by saying, “It’s now economically absurdly risky for a consumer to file a lawsuit, and it’s going to be incredibly hard to find a good lawyer.”
Hurricane Idalia victims will be the first as a group to bear the brunt of these new laws. My suggestion to them is to not wait for the insurance payments to finance the repairs and rebuilding. Monies coming from most insurers will be slow, pay only partial amounts, and not be close to what is needed to help start the full rebuilding and repair process. If policyholders do not have their own financial resources, they are going to have to look to FEMA and the Small Business Administration for lower cost loans or arrange alternative private financing. This is the new reality of what to expect from Florida’s insurance property claims industry as a result of the laws passed and the cozy relationship the insurance industry has with Florida’s insurance regulators.
DeSantis demanded that his fellow Republicans in the legislature sell out their common folk constituents to the insurance industry. All anybody has to do is read the laws they passed. It is as simple as that.
Thought For The Day
You can’t fight wars on drugs—only on people. The drug war kills people, not drugs. Anytime you hear a politician talk about being tough on drugs but then say nothing about pharmaceutical companies, doctors, or insurance providers needing reform as well, you call them what they are: hacks. And hit them in the face—we mean, vote against them.