Florida homeowners file 76% of property
insurance lawsuits in the U.S., report says
Article Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel
By Trevor Fraser
April 27, 2021
Nearly three-quarters of all U.S. lawsuits filed by
homeowners against their property insurance companies were made in
Florida, a new report says, as state lawmakers consider reforms to the
The report suggests that litigation is
driving higher insurance costs in a state that has seen
insurors raise homeowners’ rates by 30% or more.
In 2019, Florida homeowners accounted for 76% of such suits,
according to the report by the Florida Office of Insurance
Regulation. The study also found that state residents filed
just 8% of all property insurance claims in the nation that
OIR Commissioner David Altmaier put the new statistics in a
letter dated April 2 to Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill,
chairman of the House Commerce Committee, a document meant
to supplement a report OIR sent to the committee in
Using data from the National Association of Insurance
Commissioners of which Altmaier is also president, the
agency found Florida to be responsible for more than 60% of
property insurance litigation nationally since at least
2016. The letter did not provide any information about
previous years, and 2019 was the most recent data available.
The report in February identified “costly
litigation” as one of the primary drivers for rising
insurance premiums in the state. Last year, OIR approved
rate hikes of more than 30% for some insurance companies.
Companies only need to ask for approval if seeking to raise
rates by more than 15%.
Florida has more property lawsuits against insurers
than any other state, according to a new report from the Office of
Altmaier’s letter also said Florida’s ratio of claims closed without
payment to lawsuits opened was 27%, eight times higher than the next
state, Connecticut, where the ratio was 3.4%. That means more Florida
homeowners filed lawsuits after not receiving a payment for their claim
than in any other state by a margin of eight to one.
The rise in litigation in Florida has led many private insurers to drop
policies along the coasts and in Central Florida, where industry leaders
say contractors and other agents have been directly soliciting roof
damage claims from homeowners.
The issue has led to an explosion in policies for the state-run Citizens
Property Insurance, a situation that led Citizens CEO Barry Gilway last
year to call Florida’s insurance market “unhealthy.”
Altmaier’s letter concludes by suggesting solutions the Legislature may
consider to bring down the number of cases. They include measures such
as reducing attorneys’ fees to make lawsuits less attractive to lawyers
and modifying laws to reduce the number of roof claims.
Some of these ideas appear in HB 305, introduced in January by Rep. Bob
Rommel, R-Naples. The bill also seeks to stem practices by contractors
and independent agents that experts say is causing the rise in roof
But attorneys such as Mark Nation of Morgan & Morgan say that the
measures in the bill will hurt homeowners by limiting access to the
“You think there are a lot of denials now?” Nation said in a Sentinel
interview last year. “Think about if people like me didn’t exist.”
In the House earlier this month, the bill went to the Commerce
Committee, on which Rommel sits. A companion bill, SB 76, passed the
Senate in April.