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Ensuring Fairness: Striking A Balance In Insurance Lawsuits In Florida

Jan 17, 2024

Most homeowners and home insurance companies in the state of Florida have concerns about insurance laws and lawsuits. Both groups have valid points in noting that the laws are not always fair and equitable, and sometimes the efforts to change the laws create additional problems, challenges, and potential loopholes.

At Del Toro Insurance, we work closely with homeowners in the Hialeah Gardens, Margate, Homestead, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Hialeah Gardens, North Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Hialeah, Naples, and Miami, Florida, areas. Our experienced agents help you find the homeowner protection you need to ensure you have the coverage to repair or replace your home and possessions in the event of damage or loss.

Part of our services also includes helping homeowners to understand the impact of changes in insurance lawsuits and how the insurance company handles insurance claims in Florida. Keeping informed about the changes in insurance laws helps our policyholders make informed decisions that save them money on insurance premiums.

Changes Based on Recent Court Decisions

In the past, homeowners could file lawsuits against their insurance company if the claim was wrongfully denied. These insurance lawsuits could occur immediately after the denial, with the suit including the damages from the claim and full compensation for the legal fees incurred by the policyholder in pursuing the legal action.

The policyholder was not required to notify the home insurance company of the intent to sue in Florida. While this favored the policyholder, it added to the legal costs incurred by the insurance companies, which has been linked to the increasing home insurance premiums in the state.

A new law in 2021 made a change that required homeowners to provide 10-day notices before filing any lawsuits against insurance companies. This 10-day period allows the insurance company to revisit and review the denial and attempt to evaluate and pay the claim to prevent the added costs of going through litigation. This review period should benefit homeowners and home insurance companies while reducing the number of lawsuits in the courts.

There is a gray area in the law, however, which leaves some policyholders uncertain as to their need to provide the 10-day notices. One court ruled that the 2021 law was designed to be retroactive, potentially causing difficulties for some cases filed before the 2021 law was enacted but not yet before the court. To add to the confusion, the appeals court overturned the judge’s decision, stating that there was no language or intent to make the law retroactive. The Florida Supreme may have to decide this issue, which leaves some insurance lawsuits in limbo.

The NAR Lawsuit

The NAR lawsuit is another lawsuit that is generating change in the residential real estate market. NAR, or the National Association of Realtors, has long set buyer and seller commissions, with the buyer’s agent being paid commissions out of the sale of the property, not directly through the buyer.

The jury agreed that this structure allowed realtors to elevate fees, resulting in higher home costs and, ultimately, higher insurance premiums for home buyers.

While this lawsuit did not directly impact the home insurance company market, the changes to the commission-sharing rule in NAR will require the buyer and seller to be aware of the commission and allow the buyer to negotiate with their agent, potentially helping to decrease a home’s purchase price.

Generally, this change in the laws in Florida and across the country will benefit all involved. The only concern is that more home buyers may attempt to purchase a home on their own, which could result in buyers making mistakes if they are not working with a real estate attorney or agent.

To learn more about changes in real estate laws impacting Florida homeowners, reach out to the team at Del Toro Insurance. Drop in one of our local offices or call us at 305-335-8676.

FAQ

What are the rights of homeowners to sue insurance companies?

Under the new law, if a homeowner is denied a claim, there must be a 10-day notice to the insurance company before a lawsuit can be filed.

What are the concerns of Florida insurance companies about lawsuits?

Lawsuits drive up the cost of operating for the insurance companies. It not only adds to the costs but also takes up time and tends to create negative publicity for insurance companies, further eroding consumers’ confidence.

What is the impact of excessive lawsuits on Florida insurance premiums?

Excessive lawsuits drive up the cost of insurance premiums for all policyholders across the state.

What are alternative dispute resolution mechanisms for resolving insurance disputes?

Insurance disputes can be settled through direct negotiation, mediation, or arbitration based on the clauses in the policy.

What is the potential impact of the Florida court ruling on homeowners and insurers?

Both of the recent lawsuits may help reduce premiums for homeowners and also reduce excessive lawsuits for insurance companies.

What can be done to improve the relationship between homeowners and insurers?

Encouraging alternative dispute resolution mechanisms can help to improve relationships by providing direct communication between homeowners and insurers when there is a conflict.

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