The first of many significant hurdles to normalcy in Florida’s property market was cleared Tuesday when SB-76 emerged unscathed from the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee via a 9 to 3 bipartisan vote. Two Senate hearings remain before it goes to the floor–next being the sometimes prickly Judiciary Committee chaired by Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg). Senator Brandes voted for the bill as a member of Senator Boyd’s Committee and has been a staunch advocate for common sense reforms, including attorney fee multipliers and reductions in the time for promptly filing a claim.
Perhaps because Florida’s Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier says claims solicitation is raising the cost of Florida’s property insurance industry for both consumer and provider insurers – frustrated by a lack of criminal prosecution of insurance fraud perpetrators, have taken to civil courts to deter crime by taking the profit out of the criminal schemes.
David Altmaier told lawmakers the losses insurance companies took in 2020 were almost a billion dollars, little over a billion dollars in underwriting losses for Florida’s domestic industry through the first three quarters of 2020, so “that’s not even a full year yet and we’ve almost doubled the underwriting losses from last year.”
Altmaier said, while lawsuits are a main driver-a growing issue is roofing claims. He reported that roofing claims do not appear to be normal roofing claims in which a consumer notices that they incurred a loss and calls their insurance company, but instead solicitations.
The parade has always been there, of course, with attorneys at the fore, guarding their treasure chests and characterizing their lawsuits as the result of insurers that “don’t pay their claims.”
Remember sinkholes and Sinkhole Alley? A new law passes (over their objection) and miraculously, no more sinkholes, no more alley. AOB, same thing.
Ron Hurtibise with the Sun Sentinel penned an article titled “Insurers using RICO Act to strike back against alleged fraud.”
By examining insurers use of the Federal Racketeering, Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act, Hurtibise highlighted an oft neglected layer in Florida’s horrible property market. Water mitigation firms are unregulated—the only players in Florida’s substantial pyramid of fraud to be so blessed and, as a consequence, so likely to behave badly. (See NOTE #1 below)
Lawmakers just concluded round one of committee hearings examining Florida’s abysmal property insurance market. (See NOTE#1 below).
It’s the necessary predicate to relief for millions of premium payers coughing up chunks of hard earned dollars for their homeowners’ coverage–all while under the substantial thumb of a pandemic and partial or complete shutdowns of their businesses and livelihoods.
NOTE: Johnson Strategies has published articles and opinions regarding Public Adjusters acting as “disinterested” parties under the appraisal provision in most property policies. Foundation was provided by two actions from State Farm one of which has been certified to Florida’s Supreme Court. Please read Public Adjusters as Appraisers—How interested are the disinterested? Another case, slightly different, has been filed on the same subject: State Farm vs. Jon Parrish; Case No. 2D19-130, 2nd DCA, 1/6/2021.
We reached out to JS Contributor Barry Zalma for an analysis of this newest case and for his opinion on Public Adjusters acting as Appraisers. He brings a decidedly more academic and detailed legal approach to this important issue, but…reaches the same conclusion. Feel free to distribute this article to others by clicking the appropriate icon below. [Read more…] about GUEST COLUMNIST—Barry Zalma, ESQ, CFE
For those who just joined you can review “Collapse of an Evil Empire” starting with PART I then subsequent PARTS II thru VIII.
For now you need to know that Scot Strems is still fighting as hard as he can. Recall the recommendation by referee, Judge Dawn Denaro of the 11th Circuit Court that, instead of permanent disbarment sought by the Florida Bar, Strems should serve only a two-year suspension followed by one-year of supervised probation. (See Note #1 below)
Tallahassee–Sans personal tragedies this inaugural 2021 posting comes on the heels of the worst year most of us can remember. Ask anybody what they’d like to tell 2020 and the predominant response would be “Good Riddance!” No need to belabor. [Read more…] about Goodbye Cruel Year
Florida’s property insurers are losing money like nowhere else in America—and lots of it. In 2019 the industry wide net underwriting loss was $701 million. Through the second quarter of 2020 another $501 million vanished. That’s for one line of insurance in just one state.
Collectively the combined ratio year-end 2019 was 111%. That deterioration persisted at least through 2nd quarter 2020 at 129%. Every dollar coming in crosses path with $1.30 going out. (See: The Troubled Florida Market) [Read more…] about Litigation Reality Check- “Stick & Carrot”
First timers to this series can catch up by scrolling down the home page to “Collapse of an Evil Empire! Part I” and continuing on to Part VII.
In Part VI, “The Sentence,” you’ll find reactions to the recommendation of referee, Judge Dawn Denaro, that Scot Strems should receive only a two year suspension of his license to practice law and one year of supervised probation. This, in lieu of permanent disbarment which many, including the Florida Bar, thought he deserved.
Regardless of any alleged light sentence, I said Strems troubles were far from over. [Read more…] about Collapse of an Evil Empire! Part VIII—Patterns of Deceit