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 Michael K. Kiernan
Dramatic Changes to Florida’s Property Insurance Laws
By Michael K. Kiernan & Ryan Jones
The proliferation of property insurance litigation in Florida over the past decade is no secret to anyone in the insurance industry. The property insurance market has become so toxic to property insurance carriers that increasingly carriers are either pulling out of the state altogether or significantly limiting their exposure in the sunshine state. Insurance carriers have dropped hundreds of thousands of policies or requested significant rate increases. In the meantime, the State run insurance carrier of last resort, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., experienced a dramatic increase in the number of policies in force, to over 1.14 million during the last fiscal year. The result is an insurance market where the availability and exorbitant cost of homeowners insurance for the average Floridian has left the state in dire need of insurance reform.
Much of the blame for this predicament lies in the fact that over 79% of all lawsuits related to property insurance claims nationally are filed in Florida! And that is despite the fact that Florida accounts for only 9% of the homeowners property insurance claims filed nationwide. A primary reason for this proliferation in property insurance-related litigation can be attributed to the state’s one-way fee statute. Historically in Florida, if an insured brings an action against their insurance carrier, they are entitled to an award of attorney’s fees if they prevail – no matter the significance of the result. (i.e. if the insured recovers only $1, they are entitled to attorney’s fees).
In December, 2022 the Florida Legislature in a special session, enacted sweeping changes to the troubled property insurance system, including the elimination of the one-way fee statute. Hopefully over time these changes will bring much needed relief to both carriers and their insureds. Set forth below are several of the highlights of Senate Bill 2 (SB2). While many of these measures will not affect current litigation of pending claims, it is hoped that over time these changes will greatly resuscitate the ailing Florida property insurance market. Obviously, these highlights are for informational purposes only and one should refer to the full text of the statute for more detail.
1. The Elimination of the one-way fee statute:
A. F.S. 626.9373 (for surplus lines carrier) and F.S.627.428 (for admitted carriers) was amended to remove the right to attorney’s fees in suites “arising under a residential or commercial property insurance policy”.
Extra-Contractual Liability Law
  Ryan Jones

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