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Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 954-606-5660 at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

LAS VEGAS — Class-action lawsuits were filed in Nevada against 10 major auto insurance companies Tuesday, contending that the companies charged excessive insurance premiums during the pandemic by failing to account for a drop in driving and crashes.

The lawsuits acknowledge that some insurers provided discounts over the emptier roads and drop in accidents and claims, but the discounts did not offer “any meaningful relief that actually reflects the reduction in cars on the road and reduced driving during the pandemic,” according to the court filings. The rates that were charged violate state law against excessive premiums, the lawsuits contend.

The lawsuits were filed on behalf of Nevada insurance customers against State Farm, USAA, Geico, Acuity, Liberty Mutual, Farmers, Progressive, Travelers, Nationwide and Allstate.

“The filing of a lawsuit does not substantiate the allegations within the complaint,” State Farm, the country’s largest auto insurer, said in a statement. “We’ve recently learned about the filing, and it is premature to comment at this time.”

USAA was reviewing the lawsuit, according to spokesman Matt Hartwig. “However, I do think it’s important to note that on three occasions in 2020, USAA returned dividends totaling $1.07 billion to all auto insurance policy holders due to fewer drivers on the road because of the ongoing pandemic,” he said.[Most read] A transgender flag and a personal attack: Illinois U.S. Rep. Marie Newman and Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene feud over LGBTQ rights »

“Nationwide is taking the longer view while continuing to monitor consumer driving behaviors and how they impact future miles driven and accident frequencies. We know customers want fair rates and agents are seeking stability,” the insurer said in a statement Wednesday.

The company said it is “building additional benefits of the slowdown into future rates, on a state-by-state basis” and is taking lower miles driven or accident claims into account in rates for renewing policies. The company said some of that is being “offset by higher repair costs driven by more high-speed crashes and higher auto repair shop costs.”

Liberty Mutual declined to comment.

Phone and email messages seeking comment from the other insurers were not returned.Customers of Allstate, Geico and other insurers are suing for larger premium cuts »

States across the country began reporting a decline in traffic and crashes when COVID-19-related closures and stay-at-home orders were imposed starting last spring. Companies that sell the majority of the policies across the U.S. announced refunds or credits to drivers.[Most read] Illinois begins offering COVID-19 vaccine to people with health conditions Thursday, but most Chicago-area counties will not. Here’s why. »

The discounts provided by insurers to reflect pandemic driving conditions varied, from $50 to $100 one-time refund from Acuity, a 25% reduction in bills from March 20 to May 31 from State Farm, to a 15% credit from Geico only when renewing a policy between April 8 and October 7, according to the lawsuits.

“I believe that the rates should have been cut something in the order of 50-60%,” said Robert Eglet, lead counsel for the law firm Eglet Adams, which filed the lawsuits. “These discounts that were given were just totally woefully inadequate.”

His comments are similar to those made by the Consumer Federation of America in September, which said that the relief provided by insurers was not enough and said state insurance commissioners who regulate the industry had failed “to prevent windfall auto insurer profits as auto claims dropped when driving and auto crashes declined.”

In Nevada, after the governor ordered the closure of nonessential businesses, the Nevada-California border, which sees traffic backups when tourists pour into Las Vegas for weekend trips and other getaways, had 66% less traffic in April 2020 than in the same month in 2019, according to the lawsuits, along with a 60% drop in automobile accidents in southern Nevada in March 2020 when compared to the previous year.

Eglet, whose firm represented several thousand victims of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting in a lawsuit against MGM Resorts and the state of Nevada and a wide-ranging lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and sellers, said it was premature to estimate the total dollar amount of the claims across the lawsuit but said it was “well into the millions.”[Most read] Column: Gov. Cuomo and the science of political decay »

Nevada Division of Insurance declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

Eglet said he was not aware of other class-action lawsuits filed in other states making similar arguments but predicted more may follow because of other drops in driving patterns and rates of premium relief across the states.

Lawsuits were filed last summer in Illinois contending six auto insurers failed to offer big enough relief on premiums.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 954-606-5660 at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

Three bills currently working their way through the Florida Legislature are designed to tackle the rising costs of homeowner roof claims, the costs of attorney fees in homeowner’s claims and issues surrounding notice to insurance carriers.

The proposed legislations come less than two years after Florida enacted an assignment of benefits law for homeowners’ property claims. But these latest efforts are meant to address the increasing costs of homeowners insurance due to market forces that were not addressed by the 2019 AOB bill. While these bills are preliminary and not law yet, it shows a shift in the legislature to reel in the liberal rules of lawsuits relating to property insurance claims.

Among the bills currently being considered is Senate Bill 76, which amends Florida statute (627.428) to award attorney’s fees for claims arising under the lodestar fee. Deviation from this method would be reserved for only rare and exceptional circumstances that competent counsel could not be retained in a reasonable manner.

The lodestar method determines what a reasonable fee for an attorney would be and requires the following determinations:

  • The number of hours reasonably worked on the case;
  • A reasonable hourly rate to apply to the related hours.
  • The reasonable amount of hours would be multiplied by the reasonable hourly rate creating the lodestar number.

Further, SB 76 would allow insurance carriers to limit coverage on roof claims. Under the provision, a carrier can include a roof surface reimbursement schedule endorsement to the insurance policy, which allows for reimbursement for repairs, replacement and installation based on the annual age of a roof surface type, unless the roof is less than 10 years old. The schedule also would provide reimbursement amounts of no less than 70% for metal roofs, 40% for concrete, clay tile, wood shaker, and shingle roofs, and 25% for any remaining roof types.

SB 76 also extends certain statutes to cover all property insurance claims instead of just a windstorm or hurricane claim, which would bar property claims if the insurer is not provided notice of claim or supplemental claim within two years of the date of the loss.

The bill, if passed, would add a statute (627.70152), which would affect all property insurance policy lawsuits. Specifically, the statute would require any claimant(s) to provide at least 60 days’ notice of their intention of initiating litigation against their insurance carrier prior to filing the lawsuit.

The notice must include:

  • The alleged acts or omissions of the insurer;
  • The insured’s demand;
  • Reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees incurred by claimants via calculation of the lodestar fee.

The new provision would give carriers the ability to inspect and evaluate the demand and allow the carrier to abate any lawsuit if said notice was not provided in compliance with the proposed statute. Attorney’s fees under this statute would provide a similar sliding scale structure as the assignee of an assignment of benefits related to property insurance claims and would be based on a demand to judgment quotient. SB 76 was approved by the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee and is awaiting a hearing by the Judiciary Committee.

The Florida House of Representatives’ companion bill to SB76 – House Bill 305 – would amend the same statutes as SB 76, except it does not involve adding the claimant’s requirement to provide notice of intent to initiate litigation proposed in SB76. This bill is currently awaiting a hearing by the House Banking and Insurance Subcommittee.

The Florida Senate also introduced Senate Bill 212 as a standalone bill addressing just the attorney’s fees issue of reasonableness and multipliers. SB 212 would only entail adopting the lodestar fee for property insurance policy lawsuits. SB 212 is currently awaiting a hearing by the Florida Senate Banking and Insurance Subcommittee.

These bills would provide insurers the ability to address the growing number of roof claims that were either not damaged by wind or hail or could be repaired yet facing litigation due to insureds, or their representatives, demand full replacement. Further, SB 76 would force claimants to provide notice to a carrier of their intent to file their lawsuit, giving the carrier an opportunity to re-evaluate the claim.

All three of these bills would go into effect on July 1, 2021 if passed and signed by Governor Ron DeSantis.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 954-606-5660 at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

New data about the growing risks of climate change to residential real estate suggests that the National Flood Insurance Program may have to raise its rates. 

As first reported by the New York Times, hundreds of thousands of homeowners could see their flood insurance rates jump as early as this fall, according to new research from First Street Foundation. In the most flood-prone areas of the US, those rates should more than quadruple. Premium increases of more than $10,000 are necessary for the insurance on approximately 265,000 homes to match their corresponding level of risk.

Around 5.7 million properties currently have some level of flood risk, and the capped average annual loss is $3,343 (with an average NFIP premium of $902). That accounts for a difference of $2,441 per property, and suggests, according to First Street, that the current economic risk is 3.7 times higher than the level at which NFIP is now pricing insurance.

For those 4.3 million properties with substantial flood risk, the capped average estimated annual loss is $4,419 and the average NFIP premium is $981—accounting for a risk level that’s 4.5 times more than the current estimated NFIP premiums. In Special Flood Hazard Areas, or SFHAs, the economic damage underestimate is about 4.2 times that of current levels. And outside SFHAs, in regions First Street deem “specifically vulnerable to flood risk” since they haven’t been mapped by FEMA into a SFHA and are likely significantly underinsured, that number grows to 5.2 times.  NFIP insurance is not required for properties outside of a SFHA.

Areas with the biggest risk underestimates include Florida, New Jersey, and South Carolina, as well as parts of Texas, Washington, and California.

“Because a great deal of flood risks exists outside of Federal Emergency Management Agency’s designated Special Flood Hazard Areas, this research reveals a vastly expanded mapping of economic risk associated with flood risk, and demonstrates the extent to which information asymmetries on flood risk contribute to financial market asymmetries, specifically in the form of underestimations of financial and personal risk to property owners,” the report states.

FEMA, which operates the NFIP, has not publicly commented on how its new anticipated risk rating system will affect premiums.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 954-606-5660 at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

Term insurance is a pure risk cover payable only in case of death of the life assured and currently, the cover is extremely economically priced given that the key influencing factor is the expected mortality risk on the portfolio

Term life insurance premiums are likely to increase as reinsurers have revised their premiums upward. This is the premium which life insurers have to pay for re-insuring their risk.

Reinsurers increased their premium rates as the number of claims have been rising over the past year. The rise in re-insurers premium is primarily due to an increase in mortality rate during the covid-19 pandemic. Thus, with the increase in the reinsurers’ premium rates, insurers may raise the premium of term life insurance policy for buyers.

According to the earlier reports, premiums for term insurance plans were expected to rise by up to 40% in 2021 as insurers take into consideration the emerging risks.

Sonia Notani, CMO, IndiaFirst Life Insurance Company Limited, said in the last 12 months, the pandemic has had an impact and the number of deaths has gone up globally. Reinsurers have a well-spread portfolio across geographies, enabling them to cushion the impact of any calamities or large incidents causing death. “However, this is a unique situation where the impact of the pandemic is global. This has impacted the mortality assumptions made by the reinsurers, causing them to re-assess the risk and modify assumptions,” said Notani.

Term insurance is a pure risk cover payable only in case of death of the life assured. Currently, the cover is extremely economically priced given that the key influencing factor is the expected mortality risk on the portfolio or in simple words, the incidence of loss due to death, an industry source said.

Reinsurers have become cautious of the decline in rates over the past few years. Karthik Raman, CMO and Head – Products, Ageas Federal Life Insurance said that the term life insurance market had become very competitive a few years ago which had led to a drastic drop in the premium prices by life insurance players backed by reinsurance. Reinsurers and insurers had made aggressive assumptions in terms of mortality which had led to term insurance premiums being priced low. “However, an adverse mortality experience over the past few years, which has intensified due to the Covid-19 scenario has led reinsurers to increase their rates resulting in an upward revision of term insurance premiums,” he added.

According to Bharat Kalsi, chief financial officer, Bajaj Allianz Life, “Across the life insurance industry, term plan premiums are being revised due to several reasons. One of them being the reinsurers revising their prices based on the actual mortality experience vis-a-vis what was expected. Despite this rise, I must add that term plan rates in India continue to be amongst the most affordable, even compared to markets like USA or Singapore.”

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 954-606-5660 at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – “We kind of panicked a little bit, rushed in the house and our dog was standing in about three- inches of water,”  said Southlake homeowner Lori Cerami describing what she saw after leaving her home just long enough to take a warm shower at a friend’s house.

The family’s hot water tank burst in the attic sending water gushing through the canned lights onto their first floor.

READ MORE:Just As The Lights Come Back On For Most Of Texas Water Woes Rise In The State & Across The South

She lost her daughter several years ago in a tragic accident. She could only think about one thing: the pictures hanging on the wall.

“Our daughter passed away a few years ago and I was immediately concerned about the irreplaceable pictures that I have of her, so I ran to the pictures of her to try and get them off the wall.”

Fortunately, most were saved.

In Grapevine, 78-year-old Sandy Silverman describes the two inches of water which flooded her apartment in two hours.

“From the ice maker,” Silverman says.

She is now living with her daughter who explained what happened.

“The maintenance man said it was the refrigerator, the pipe behind the refrigerator that supplies the water.”

They haven’t been back to the apartment.

“All we could think of was trying to get her to safety and try to get our photo albums and she’s 78, a lifetime of our most important documents. We just wanted to get out of her apartment,” says Stacie Silverman.

Those are just two stories. They seem endless.

The CBS 11 I-Team has received so many videos and pictures of homes flooded because of burst pipes.

And, as we warm up and your pipes thaw, we’ll likely see more.

Camille Garcia, with the Insurance Council of Texas, says, “Know your policy, know your deductible.” And remember, policies vary.

According to Garcia, your policy should likely include coverage for flooring, baseboards, dry wall, and paint.

It may also include personal property, hotels, additional living expenses and perishable food.

If pipes break, Garcia says, “Documenting the steps you’ve taken and the repairs you’ve done is really critical.”

Also:

–Make sure you take photos and videos of the damage and cleanup.
–If you go to the home improvement store for supplies, save your receipts.
–Log your clean-up hours
–If you hire help, get references, and make sure they are reputable.
–Save those invoices.
–And, here’s what you should NOT do. “Don’t sign any contracts right now for extended damage repairs because you don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring,” says Garcia. She says, as the temperatures warm, we may see more damage and more pipes break.

The Insurance Council of Texas is also asking all Texas residents to pack some patience right now as agents are dealing with all claims — homeowners, business and auto.

If you do not get the coverage you expect, you have recourse.MORE NEWS:Thursday’s Mini-Melt, May Make Overnight Freezing Worse On Pipes

You can file a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 954-606-5660 at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

This is called a roof retrofit & many Floridians can do it. There is always a cost, but you have to spend $$ to make $$. Usually a 5-7 year breakeven should be expected. once you do that, your home has more value in sale. If you have this problem, then so does every home in the neighborhood so yours will have more sale value. Let USAssurance help you get your best scenario. All we need to start is your current Home Insurance Declaration pages & the wind Mitigation Inspection.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 954-606-5660 at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

A Miami insurance agent has been arrested for allegedly stealing personal account information to file false insurance applications and collect commissions from the insurance company, according to a statement from the Florida Department of Financial Services.

An investigation conducted by detectives at the department’s Bureau of Insurance Fraud revealed that Daniela Chacon Labrador, a licensed life and health insurance agent from Hialeah, allegedly created and submitted applications for three accident/Illness insurance policies using falsified and fictitious information and the bank account information stolen from a client. As a result of the scheme, Labrador received approximately $1,789 in commissions from Combine Insurance Co. of America.

Labrador surrendered on Feb. 12, 2021 and was booked into the Miami-Dade County Jail. She is charged with organized scheme to defraud, false and fraudulent insurance application, criminal usage of personal identifying information, and grand theft, all 3rd degree felonies. If convicted, she faces up to 40 years in prison. Individuals charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty. In a separate action, DFS has revoked Labrador’s license.

“Fraud continues to be a major problem in our state as it impacts the financial well-being of the victim and inflates insurance rates for all Floridians,” Patronis said. “I appreciate the dedication of my fraud detectives to hold fraudsters like this accountable, and we’ll continue working aggressively to fight the type of fraud that impacts consumers’ insurance rates.”

Source: Florida Department of Financial Services

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 954-606-5660 at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

TALLAHASSEE — Florida senators are moving forward with a proposal to do away with the state’s longstanding no-fault auto insurance system, with trial attorneys and insurers closely watching the debate.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill (SB 54) that would eliminate no-fault, and its requirement that motorists carry personal-injury protection coverage, and instead mandate bodily injury coverage.

Sponsor Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, said the bill would make Florida like 48 other states that have bodily injury insurance systems. He said he thinks it would help ensure that motorists have adequate coverage.

Before giving approval, the committee made changes to the proposal, including reducing required coverage levels for low-income people and students and raising the possibility that motorists could pay deductibles to have windshields repaired.

The windshield change to the bill came after insurers have complained in recent years about auto-glass businesses offering incentives, such as gift cards, to have motorists replace windshields. Currently, insured motorists do not have to pay to get windshields repaired.

Lawmakers during the past decade have repeatedly discussed moving away from the no-fault system, which requires motorists to carry $10,000 in PIP coverage to help cover medical bills. In part, they have pointed to fraud in the system.

Bodily injury coverage, which many motorists already carry, pays for injuries or deaths that drivers cause to other people in accidents. Under the Senate proposal, motorists generally would be required to carry a minimum of $25,000 in bodily injury coverage for the injury or death of one person and $50,000 for injuries or deaths of two or more people.

But under a change approved Monday, those coverage requirements would be reduced to $15,000 and $30,000, respectively, for low-income motorists and students. Low-income motorists would be defined as having incomes that are 200% or less of the federal poverty levels.

Eric Romano, president of the Florida Justice Association, which represents trial attorneys, questioned the change, saying the bill wouldn’t require proof that motorists meet the qualifications for the lower coverage amounts. He said it is essentially an “unenforceable honor system.”

While eliminating the no-fault system would affect millions of motorists across Florida, a major part of the debate about the bill involves potential changes to what are known as “bad faith” lawsuits. Such lawsuits can be costly for insurers and involve allegations that claims were not handled properly.

Insurers and their supporters are backing bad-faith changes in the bill, while they face opposition from trial attorneys.

The bill also is drawing attention from emergency-room physicians, as the PIP requirement has ensured $10,000 in coverage for medical care.

Burgess’ bill, which earlier passed the Banking and Insurance Committee, is slated to go to the Rules Committee and then could go to the full Senate after the annual legislative session starts March 2. A similar House bill (HB 719), was filed Feb. 3 by Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, but has not been heard in committees.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 954-606-5660 at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com


Vibha Padalkar, MD and CEO, HDFC Life Insurance

Rebound in GDP growth next fiscal could mean improved prospects for savings and life insurance companies, believes Vibha Padalkar, MD and CEO, HDFC Life Insurance. In an interview with Businessline, she said the Budget proposal on taxing ULIPs will not impact the insurer. Excerpts:

HDFC Life reported 5.8 per cent net profit in the third quarter. What contributed to the growth?

We are fairly satisfied with the performance. The January numbers have come out. We have grown faster than the private sector. We grew by 24 per cent while the private sector grew by seven per cent. On a year-to-date basis, we have grown faster than the private sector. We have had a 250 basis points expansion in market share. Our balanced product and distribution mix has helped us. Also, product innovation is important. Term products continue to do well.

What is your expectation on the life insurance industry?

For new business premium, this year is likely to be close to zero, given that we are at negative four per cent in the private sector space. The next year should be decent with growth between 12 per cent to 15 per cent for the life insurance industry. Some of it will be the base effect. But if we are talking of a fairly good rebound in GDP growth, then there will be growth in savings, and we will channelise some of it in the life insurance sector.

Will there be any impact of the Budget proposal on ULIPs on HDFC Life Insurance?

We have typically not focussed on high ticket ULIPs of over ₹2.5 lakh and, in fact, we haven’t focussed on ULIP at all. We usually pitch some other policy but worst-case scenario will be about three per cent on our topline, but it will be zero impact on our bottomline. Balance product mix is handy for any kind of changes like this.

Instead of a high-ticket ULIP product, what alternatives can a customer go for?

They can buy non-par savings, which is an attractive product. They can also buy participating savings, where they can get their money back immediately. If a customer is in their 50s, it will be very good to buy a deferred annuity in 10 years when you retired. Below ₹2.5 lakh is tax-free. Alternatively, a customer can plan it in a manner and spread it across your family.

Will you look to use the higher FDI limit in any way?

As a listed company, eventually it is possible that more and more of foreign investment will come in. We still have a headroom today, we are not even close to 49 per cent. Gradually, over a period of time for HDFC Life and if and when our promoters decide to pare down their stake, it gives more optionality for foreign investors to come in.

With Covid now bringing a new normal, how are you redefining your strategies on a medium or long term basis?

We are working strategies that are impacting all our key stakeholders, including employees. For employees, we see a shift in how we attract and retain employees. For customers, we are migrating to various facilities. We have introduced a video-based tool for seamless customer servicing; they can directly connect with our executives without having to walk in to a branch. We have a Whatsapp bot to answer simple questions. People are using that quite a bit. We also have digital on-boarding of agents. We are licensing, on-boarding and training them through digital, and we are giving them tools for end-to-end pitch. Our traditional bancassurance channels such as HDFC Bank, Bandhan Bank, RBL Bank are all moving digital, and the entire process of on-boarding a customer is digital.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 954-606-5660 at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

Florida property insurers are jacking up rates by double-digit percentages, blaming the hikes on lingering damage from past hurricanes, a wave of litigation, and a law that encourages lawyers to sue by allowing courts to award them big fees.

The rate increases in Florida, the third-largest property insurance market among U.S. states, are the highest in memory, according to some insurance agents and residents. One danger, they say, is that the new rates could make owning a home in Florida unaffordable.

“I was flabbergasted,” said Karlos Horn, a 35-year-old law student who owns a four-bedroom, single-family home in Hendry County, Florida. He said his premium doubled to $200 per month last August.

That is equivalent to half of his $400 mortgage payment and the largest increase in his five years as an owner.

Florida’s property insurance market, which collected $56.6 billion in premiums during 2019, is unique and covers complex risks including devastating hurricanes and the impact of climate change. Many insurers left the state after suffering big losses from hurricanes Katrina and Wilma in 2005, leaving about 60 small and mid-sized firms underwriting property policies there today.

Although there were no major weather events last year, some insurers are still grappling with claims from Hurricane Irma in 2017, said Logan McFaddin, an American Property Casualty Insurance Association executive who specializes in Florida.

They are also facing what McFaddin described as “out of control” litigation in Florida, partly because of a law that can require insurers to pay attorneys “excessive fees” in those cases. The practice has spurred a cottage industry of contractors and lawyers who sue insurers to replace a whole roof when only a few tiles are damaged, insurers say.

Other less dramatic problems, such as leaky pipes, happen at an “abnormally high” frequency in Florida, often causing severe damage, including mold, consistently gnawing at profits, said Charles Williamson, chief executive officer of Vault, a Florida-based insurance exchange for wealthy individuals.

Insurers are also passing along to consumers the cost of hefty rate hikes for their own coverage, known as reinsurance, which kicks in after insurers pay a set amount of claims.

Insurer of Last Resort

Florida’s domestic property insurers reported a more than $1 billion underwriting loss for the first three quarters of 2020 and almost $500 million in negative net income, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

“Insurance carriers understand that their role in our marketplace is to pay claims,” Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier told Reuters. “The challenge is when those claims are so much more expensive than they expect, it creates uncertainty, it creates turmoil – and that has to be addressed.”

Florida insurers requested 105 rate increases during the first ten months of 2020, Altmaier said. More than half of the increases that regulators approved were greater than 10%.

Last month, Altmaier testified before Florida lawmakers, including his views on roofing litigation. “We need to really spend some time on this … coming up with ways that we might be able to mitigate this kind of activity,” he said.

Lee Gorodetsky, an insurance agent in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said he cannot recall such steep rate hikes during his 34-year career. “The last two years have been the worst we’ve seen,” he said.

As prices rise, more consumers are turning to Citizens Property Insurance Corp, Florida’s insurer of last resort, which takes on high-risk customers who cannot obtain other insurance or must pay extremely high rates.

Citizens issued 545,000 policies as of Feb. 5, a 23% increase from a year ago, and it expects the number to grow to about 700,000 by year-end, a spokesman said. The growth signals an unhealthy broader market by showing that typical coverage is not as widely available, industry experts said.

Insurers are hoping Florida’s state government will approve proposed legislation that would curb the elevated litigation costs they have seen in recent years. The bill, if passed, would add to other reforms enacted in 2019.

Measures would include limiting the fees insurers must pay lawyers in claims disputes, shortening time frames for filing claims and capping payouts for roof replacements.

However, the bill might also harm homeowners’ ability to pursue legitimate claims, lawyers said. That would unfairly favor insurers, one lawyer said.

“It’s a great business model that insurers can collect premiums and not get sued when they don’t pay somebody right away everything that’s owed,” said Tampa lawyer Chip Merlin, who represents policyholders. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that that’s good for the insurance industry.”

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