Florida is home to more than 22 million people, making it the third-most populous state in the country. This large number of residents means the state also has a large personal and business insurance market.
That insurance market has faced increasing stress in recent years. The Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit industry association, noted that issues related to homeowners insurance have been particularly damaging. Many insurers are exiting this market due to issues with both insurance fraud and increasingly high claims.
For individuals seeking legal representation related to insurance in Florida, understanding these issues can be valuable. Similarly, it’s important to work with an attorney who has in-depth knowledge of the insurance market’s issues.
Keep reading to learn about key considerations related to insurance coverage issues in Florida, with a focus on homeowners insurance. You’ll also find more information about partnering with a lawyer for litigation related to insurance.
1. Risk of Natural Disasters is High in Florida
Florida is prone to natural disasters. Its location, climate and many other factors mean damage from storms and other weather events is a common issue.
When widespread damage occurs, insurers are bound by their contracts with customers to pay for covered losses. That can include roof replacements, major repairs or rebuilding destroyed homes and businesses.
That makes it difficult for insurance carriers to operate profitably in the state. However, this increased risk of natural disasters accounts for only part of the larger issue with property insurance in Florida.
Other states with high-risk profiles have notably high premiums for property insurance. However, insurance coverage is still generally available. Insurers are not broadly exiting other markets in the same way they are leaving Florida as a whole.
What else is causing turmoil in Florida’s insurance market?
2. Property Insurance Fraud Presents Major Concerns for Floridians and Insurers
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation reported that Florida accounted for 9% of homeowners claims in the United States. However, the state also represents 79% of all homeowners insurance lawsuits related to filed claims.
Part of this discrepancy stems from increasingly common homeowners insurance fraud. Bankrate shared an explanation of this insurance fraud issue from state Consumer Insurance Advocate Tasha Carter.
The major factors present in this problem include unscrupulous roofers and the recently revoked ability of homeowners to assign insurance benefits. This change limiting the assignment of benefits went into effect for policies issued or renewed on or after Jan. 1, 2023.
These roofing businesses claim they can provide a free roof to homeowners. They encourage the owner to assign insurance benefits to them. That gives the roofer the legal authority to directly engage with the insurer.
The insurer will have an adjuster inspect the roof. Adjusters commonly find significantly less or no damage compared to the roofer’s assessment. The insurer then provides a smaller or no payout on the insurance claim. The roofing company will then start litigation in an effort to capture the original claim or a favorable settlement.
The insurance company must then commit to participating in its legal defense or settle with the roofing company. Both options can and do incur a major cost for insurers.
3. Finding an Attorney Specializing in Insurance Litigation Law is Especially Important
Insurance litigation law is a complex practice area in general. Complex contracts, a strict regulatory environment and many other considerations influence this field of law.
Nationwide, attorneys in this practice area need in-depth knowledge of relevant laws, similar cases and insurance regulations. Experience in litigating similar cases can also prove to be valuable.
With Florida facing a property insurance crisis, that knowledge and experience can prove crucial.
For homeowners and business owners with legitimate claims, legal action can become even more convoluted. Issues such as an insurer exiting the Florida market or an insurer becoming more guarded against any claim may come into play.
Leaving the market doesn’t absolve insurers from covering a valid insurance claim, but it can increase the complexity of litigation. So, can insurance companies take a more defensive stance against claims in general?
The Florida legislature has recently taken action to address some underlying causes of the state’s property insurance crisis. That activity may prove fruitful in the long term, helping to stabilize the market.
However, these changes to laws and regulations may not be enough to address litigation related to individual claims. Working with an experienced insurance litigation attorney in Florida can offer support and guidance throughout the legal process.