I often get questions about Citizens Property Insurance Corporation and what to do about its controversial claims activities which harm policyholders. A former Citizens claims adjuster told an audience of some of these activities at last week’s FAPIA annual convention. Following this presentation, some called upon me to file bad faith suits against Citizens for wrongful delay or denial of claims. While some of the activities may give rise to class action lawsuits, Citizens has immunity for bad faith claims conduct.
Last Friday, Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal reaffirmed Citizen’s immunity from first party bad faith lawsuits in Citizens Property Ins. v. La Mer Condominium Assoc., Inc., No. 5D09-3578, 35 Fla. L. Weekly D1468a (Fla. 5th DCA July 2, 2010). The opinion stated:
The petitioner, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, seeks a writ of prohibition directed to the trial court to prevent the court from taking any further action with respect to a first-party bad faith claim brought by the respondent, La Mer Condominium Association. The identical issue was presented to this court in Citizens Property Insurance Corp. v. Garfinkel, 25 So. 3d 62 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009) (rehearing denied January 15, 2010), which was pending at the time the petition was filed in this case. That case has now been decided, holding that Citizens is immune from first-party bad faith claims pursuant to sections 627.351(6)(r)1. and 624.155(1)(b)1., Florida Statutes. Id. As such, prohibition is also granted in this case for the reasons set forth in Garfinkel. (emphasis added)
There is little reason for Citizens to adjust its policyholder’s claims timely or fairly because there are no causes of action which allow for the extra-contractual damages caused by Citizens. Until the Florida legislature allows Citizen’s to be placed on the same footing as private insurers through consumer protection laws, those insuring with Citizens should not expect that wrongful claims actions by Citizens can be addressed or that Citizens can be held accountable for breaking the laws that apply to all other insurers in Florida.