In a blow to policyholders, Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeals found that Citizens is not subject to bad faith lawsuits. The Court concluded:

In summary, we hold that Citizens is immune from first-party bad faith claims pursuant to section 627.351(6)(r)1. Likewise, we hold that Citizens is not subject to bad faith liability under section 624.155(1)(b)(1), as that statute is not applicable to it.


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Suppose you were not such a good person and tried to pay less than you owed on several debts. There was a process to resolve those debts, and you repeatedly lost and eventually had to pay the debts. What would you do? Well, if you are Citizens Property Insurance Corporation and its Board of Governors, you change the rules, looking for a different resolution process to avoid paying the debt and the publicity of underpaying claims.


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A former insurance defense attorney called me yesterday, asking if I would represent him and his wife in their sinkhole insurance dispute. While he oversaw many sinkhole matters from the insurance company’s position, I guess he knows that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. His call to me is part of a trend, sinkhole loss calls to our Tampa office have been on the rise. Last week, the St. Petersburg Times ran a front page lead article, Geologists Worry About Drought’s Effects on Sinkhole Season. The insurance coverage available, various statutory changes, caselaw, science, and repair of sinkhole losses make these cases fairly complex. Extreme rains or droughts seem to make sinkholes more frequent.


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Every now and then, I come across something in the media that is simply wrong and feel compelled to do something about it. I recently came across an editorial in the Bradenton Herald, linked below, which is simply fear mongering. Accordingly, I responded with my opinion for all to contemplate on this very important issue in Florida:


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The Florida Legislature passed a law in 1982 that provides for a Policyholder Remedy when an insurer fails to act in good faith and causes damage to the policyholder.  As a result, insurers could be held accountable to their policyholders under a "good faith" duty and standard of conduct similar to the "good faith" duties other states recognized through judicial common law. The legislation was necessary because conservative Florida judges refused to accept a common law "good faith" standard and the legislature had to step in and do something about the problem of insurer wrongdoing. See Allstate Indemnity Co. v. Ruiz, 899 So. 2d 1121 (Fla. 2005). Why should the largest property insurance company in Florida not have to comply with this law or be held accountable for the damages it causes?


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Alex Sink may have been very wise to have paid Warren Buffet so much money for an option to have ready access to money if a major hurricane hit Florida.  (She paid Berkshire Hathaway $224 million for the option of borrowing $4 billion this hurricane season).  A recent St. Petersburg Times article highlighted the problems

Kevin McCatry, of the Office of Insurance Regulation, announced that six fairly obscure insurance companies have taken the insurance for 100,000 risks which were previously underwritten by Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.  The good news for consumers is that their new insurance carriers are insuring them for the same or better coverage and for the same or better price.  What a deal!!  Or is it?


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 Capitalism and economic venture are alive and well in the Florida insurance market.  The Florida Underwriter reported this month that over 1.7 million policies have been written by new insurance companies since the 2004 hurricane season.  As Allstate, State Farm and Nationwide retreat from the Florida property insurance market, these new insurance companies are accepting risks that would otherwise end up with Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.


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