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For South Florida homeowners, 2017 already figured to be a year of steep property insurance rate increases.

For customers of two insurance companies, state regulators have made those increases even steeper than the companies sought.

Why? State regulators say high costs stemming from excessive claims in the tricounty region requires the companies to charge customers more money than they would prefer.

The state “has an obligation to approve rates that are [financially] sound — which may be more or less than what a company requests,” said Sha’Ron James, the state’s Insurance Consumer Advocate, who did not participate in the rate decisions.

Two companies — Deerfield Beach-based People’s Trust Insurance and Tampa-based Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty — this week received approval for larger rate increases than they requested.

People’s Trust, with 54,267 home- and condo-owner policies in the tricounty region and 129,365 statewide as of Dec. 31, sought a 14.5-percent statewide average rate hike and instead got a 16-percent hike.

Homeowners Choice, with 53,040 home- and condo-owner policies in the tricounty area and 130,041 statewide at the end of the year, sought a 3.3-percent statewide average increase and instead got an 8-percent hike.

Please read & enjoy the full article below;

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/fl-bz-insurance-rate-hikes-20170509-story.html

Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Business & Commercial & Life & Financial products as well.

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

Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Business & Commercial & Life & Financial products as well.

The Florida insurance market has been a hotbed of controversy over the last year, and many are looking at the Florida State Legislature to alleviate some of the concerns coming from consumers, businesses and the industry itself.

From insurance fraud to workers’ compensation to the escalating assignment of benefits (AOB) issue, there is no shortage of insurance topics for lawmakers to discuss when the 2017 session begins March 7.

Workers Comp

Legislation addressing the tailspin of Florida’s workers’ compensation market is considered a top priority, thanks to several 2016 decisions from the Florida Supreme Court.

AOB

The industry is backing a bill (Senate Bill 1038) drafted by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation and sponsored by State Senators Dorothy Hukill and Kathleen Passsidomo to address the abuse of assignment of benefits in Florida, particularly related to water claims

Insurance Fraud

Florida CFO Jeff Atwater announced that he is working with State Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Holly Raschien to “tackle the ever-evolving issue of insurance fraud in Florida.”

Several bills have been filed, including Senate Bill 1012, 1014, and House Bill 1007 and 1009.

Please enjoy the full article below;

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/03/03/443403.htm

Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Business & Commercial & Life & Financial products as well.

Assignment of benefits abuse has escalated over the last five years to the point where it is now a serious disruption to Florida’s insurance market.

The abuse, which is especially rampant in South Florida, stems from unscrupulous contractors and attorneys cashing in on homeowners dealing with a water loss, such as a burst pipe or roof leak. The “bad actors,” as they have been dubbed by the industry, use an AOB to acquire the homeowners’ insurance benefits, file inflated claims, and then lawsuits against insurers when those claims are disputed or denied

The industry hopes this will be the year that the Florida Legislature addresses the problem.

AOB is such a hot topic in Florida right now that it dominated discussions on almost every panel and between attendees of the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Florida Insurance Summit held Feb. 1-3 in Miami. A glance at the numbers from various Florida sources tells the story of why:

  • Frequency of water claims rose 46 percent and severity increased 28 percent between 2010 and 2015 (OIR 2015 Data Call)
  • AOB property insurance claims totaled 28,000 in 2016, up from 843 in 2010 and 405 in 2006 (Florida CFO Jeff Atwater)
  • Florida’s Citizens saw a 30 percent increase in new lawsuits filed against the insurer between January and November 2016 (Citizens)
  • 50 percent of Citizens’ water-related claims resulted in litigation in 2016, up from 15 percent in 2011 (Citizens)
  • As of October 2016, Citizens had 9,306 litigated claims pending and continues to receive an average of approximately 850 new claims per month (average of approximately 980 per month from August to October)
  • In South Florida, the average AOB claim costs more than $32,000, nearly triple the average of non-AOB claims (Florida Consumer Protection Coalition)

Please enjoy the full article below;

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/02/09/441410.htm

Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Business & Commercial, & Life & financial products as well.

In September, Hurricane Hermine broke Florida’s hurricane drought that had lasted since 2005. The category 1 storm hit the Florida Panhandle, bringing significant storm surge to the Tampa Bay area before slowly traveling up the Eastern Seaboard.

The storm weakened to a tropical storm as it moved inland in Florida, with winds topping 70 miles per hour, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center, but it was still enough to cause widespread damage and power outages. Toppled trees in Tallahassee left some residents without power for a week

Then in October, Hurricane Matthew hit. The storm was classified as a category 3 with winds of 120 miles per hour.

“When Matthew was nearing Florida, there was a large amount of uncertainty of whether there would be more wind and storm surge or less so because the storm was paralleling so close to the coast,” said Tom Sabbatelli, RMS Hurricane Risk Expert based in the UK

 

Please read the full story below;

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2016/12/14/435122.htm

 

In Fort Lauderdale and all of S. Florida some people do not get covered as they should. Most do, but this will help the few who did not get paid. They will all be costly and come with Litigation so I know for sure we will all pay for this with more rate hikes for many years to come. Water Damage claims, Hurricane Matthew and now this?? How much more can we take. Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Business & Commercial & Life & financial products as well.

John Sebo v. American Home Assurance Company, Inc. Case No.: SC14-897 (Fla. Dec. 1, 2016) image

John Sebo purchased a four year old home in Naples, Florida. American Home Assurance Company (AHAC) provided homeowners insurance. The policy insured against “all risks.” Shortly after the purchase, water began to intrude throughout the home. It became clear that the house suffered from major design and construction defects. AHAC denied coverage for most of the claimed losses. Trial proceeded against AHAC, where Mr. Sebo sought a declaration that the policy provided coverage for his damages.
Please read the full article below;

 

Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Business & Commercial & Life & Financial products as well

Florida’s streak of dodging hurricanes is over, but the state-created fund that helps private insurers pay out claims after a storm remains in strong financial shape.

Anne Bert, the chief operating officer of the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, said preliminary estimates predict that the fund will pay out less than $200 million for Hurricane Matthew. Bert said it appears there will likely be only minimal payouts associated with Hurricane Hermine.

The fund’s advisory council on Tuesday approved new financial estimates that show the fund has roughly $17.5 billion available and could borrow $7.7 billion more if needed.

The financial health of the fund is important because the state can impose a surcharge on most insurance policies to replenish it if the money runs out. Some critics have called the surcharge a “hurricane tax.”

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2016/10/20/429845.htm

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