TAMPA BAY, Florida – The cost of living in paradise is rising for homeowners. A new analysis found that Florida residents pay property insurance premiums almost three times the national average.
A recent analysis by the Insurance Information Institute found that homeowners in Florida pay an average premium of $ 4,231 for insurance, compared to the US average of $ 1,544.
“This difference is simply widening more and more. And in terms of the average percentage increase, we see well over 30% of the average in Florida. The average in the United States is below 10%, “said Mark Friedlander, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute.
On top of that, we are now learning the impact on the state-sponsored insurance provider, Citizens Insurance Corps, which is currently dealing with nearly 20,000 cases – a direct dependence on the number of policies they have added in the last year.
“Our policy number as of Friday, June 17 was 899,642, and I can tell you with confidence that we are over 900,000 today,” Citizens spokeswoman Christine Ashburne told ABC Action News on Wednesday morning.
Florida as a whole had about 100,000 lawsuits against insurance companies last year, while the rest of the country took about 1,000. Insurance executives said these lawsuits were the reason so many companies went bankrupt, raised premiums and canceled coverage – sending more and more more and more residents to Citizens.
RECOMMENDED: At least 1 insurance company in Florida that cannot provide reinsurance until mid-June
“We have been battling this real crisis since March 2015. For seven years, and every year, referees and lawyers have become more and more experts in the games that are being played,” said American Integrity Executive Director Bob Richards on roofing lawsuits. companies that receives daily.
On Thursday, the Citizens’ Claims Committee will present a report to its board of governors asking for more funding to fight the rise in the number of lawsuits they are currently receiving.
In the first four months of 2022 alone, Citizens added 75,000 policies and 3,881 cases, according to a report by the Citizens’ Claims Committee.
The company added the top 12,000 policies in the first week of June due to the insolvency of Louisiana Lighthouse Insurance, and added 7,000 policies in the third week. They are not included in the 75,000 they report.
“We have a growth of 18.5% this year, as of January 1, “Ashburn said.” We are currently 43% higher than a year ago last June. “
Citizens is believed to be the ultimate insurer in Florida, but with nine state property insurance companies currently in liquidation, one-tenth is cut in half and dozens more are either leaving, abandoning clients, or not starting a new business at all. degree due to roof fraud, they become the insurer in the first place for many.
We have reviewed the Citizen report in depth. It states that the company receives nearly a thousand cases a month this year, an increase of 12% compared to last year.
In addition, the report shows that Citizens spend an average of $ 6.5 million a month on what they call legal service contracts for claims that involve fixed fees and costs rather than the costs of providers such as court reporters and experts.
RECOMMENDS: Florida union currently handles 8K lawsuits, 2K lawsuits in homeowners’ insurance crisis
The map shows that 75% of lawsuits have been filed in the Tri-County area from West Palm to Miami, with the majority being non-weather and water claims, such as bursting pipes. Asburn said some are valid, but many are contractors who are taking advantage of the system.
The report said there was “a continuing growing trend in litigation in the Central West of Tampa Bay … which has intensified over the past two years.” The Central West accounts for 15% of court cases now, with policies growing by 35.5%, according to Ashburn.
Perhaps the most shocking part of the report is that Citizens saw a 93% increase in AOB transfer lawsuits in which homeowners signed their rights as a contractor or roofer.
RECOMMENDS: “Under attack by fraudsters”: Florida’s insurance industry in trouble, said state’s chief financial officer
The AOB was something that lawmakers tried to limit in 2019 and again at a special session in May, but we still do not see a permanent change.
“With the new bill, which was just passed at the special session, there have been further attempts to try to limit litigation over the award of benefits by eliminating the possibility of a successor, the person being assigned to actually reimburse fees under the one-way fee status. as consumers have access to it by law, “Ashburn said.
She added that many of these cases lagged behind when the courts were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lawmakers said it would take about a year and a half to see changes from the special session, but industry experts suggest it could take much longer than that.
“Although there was some tort reform implemented during the special session in May, it will be a flash on the radar screen, we do not expect this trend to slow down at all,” Friedlander concluded. “In fact, it could potentially continue to increase based on what we see with this citizen’s data.”
At Thursday’s meeting, the Citizens’ Claims Committee will ask the board for an additional $ 50 million in spending power to deal with all these cases and an additional $ 2.5 million to hire court reporters.
The Board of Directors will take its decision at a meeting on July 13.