“We’re here from the government, we’re here to help you”
The Florida Senate and House leadership have sold out to the insurance industry. They have destroyed the rights of individual policyholders. They have effectively prevented policyholders from being able to hold fraudulent insurance companies accountable. I don’t know what happened to the Republican conservative value of holding cheaters accountable.
Here is the bottom line on the practical effects of these proposed laws:
- No more AOBs.
- No ability to sue an insurer that violates claims handling statutes that injures a policyholder without a court judgment in an underlying lawsuit. In other words, bad faith actions are effectively dead in Florida except in rare circumstances.
- Policyholders must pay all of their attorneys̵7; fees—even if the insurance company wrongfully denies, underpays, and delays their claims regardless of the insurer’s bad faith.
- People will have to represent themselves or simply give up if an insurance company underpays a minor claim because it is uneconomical to hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit.
- Insurance companies can prevent access to courts by introducing mandatory arbitration clauses.
- Changes the burden of proof to require Citizens policyholders to prove that water damage is due to wind damage rather than the burden on the insurer to prove that the flood caused the damage.
- Making citizens pay for flood insurance.
- There is no way for a policyholder to enforce late payment penalties.
- Allows insurers to make an adjustment without ever going to the structure by using photos and digital methods to estimate the claim.
- Policyholders only have 18 months to complete repairs and replacement of property and contents and make changes to the claim.
- Before filing a lawsuit against an insurer, a policyholder must file a very expensive Notice of Intent to Sue with all the extensive documentation supporting all the amounts sought. This makes it more difficult and expensive to file a lawsuit.
The bottom line is that Florida political leaders wrote minimal sham consumer protection regulations with no teeth in an attempt to hide these laws that hurt policyholders. Policyholders could not apply these provisions even if they were aware of them. Instead, they would have to complain to the government. Then the government just calls the insurance company to say “stop.”
Unlike the majority of states, Florida does not have a first party bad faith common law claim. Additionally, Florida common law does not allow foreseeable compensatory damages caused by an insurer’s breach of contract. So by changing the Civil Code, Florida policyholders, except in rare cases, have no remedy for the harm caused by a bad-acting insurer. The practical effect is that it prompts a Florida insurer to deny, delay and underpay on a systemic basis.
What good is insurance if it doesn’t pay out quickly and in full? These new proposed laws and the elected officials who vote for them are simply selling out to the insurance industry. There is no way to sugarcoat it.
People crushed by laws have no hope but to avoid power. If the laws are their enemies, they will be enemies of the law; and those who have the most to hope for and nothing to lose will always be dangerous.