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A bill backed by the insurance industry to curb the abuse of Florida’s one-way attorney fee statute in assignment of benefit claims has stalled as lawmakers opted to instead advance what the insurance industry and the state’s regulator feel is a less effective measure.

The legislative maneuver sparked criticism by the Wall Street Journal of the Senate chair of the key committee, who in turn has accused the industry of mounting a “smear” campaign against her.

The industry setback came on Monday when the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, chaired by Senate President Pro Tempore Anitere Flores (R-Miami, Monroe), left Senate Bill 1038 off its agenda. This bill, drafted by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation with support from the state-run insurer Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and other industry groups, seeks to keep AOB consumer protections in place, but take away the incentive – the one-way attorney fee – that the industry claims is driving abuse by unregulated water mitigation, remediation and roofing contractors typically working with attorney groups

The insurance industry had tempered its expectations of getting the legislation passed because of lobbying by trial attorneys and unlicensed contractors, who the industry says are inflating water damage claims and filing frivolous lawsuits. Under Florida’s current one-way attorney fee statute, policyholders suing their insurer over a claim dispute can recover their attorney’s fees if the insurer is shown to have underpaid the claim, by any amount.

“If you look at the trends of water claims over the last five years – it’s alarming,” Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier told Insurance Journal in February. “Absent any kind of reforms to address those trends, we could be seeing rate increases of 10 percent a year just to keep up.”

Please enjoy the full article below.

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/04/05/446884.htm

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