Property insurance litigation claims decrease in last months of 2021

Some credit new legislation, but will rates decrease?

Property Insurance litigation claims steadily declined in the last months of 2021, according to a litigation management software provider.

Last week News 6 reported some property insurers are dropping policyholders and not writing new policies based on the age of your home’s roof.

[RELATED: Florida property insurers dropping homeowners based on roofs’ age]

Many News 6 viewers responded and were not happy.

For years insurers blame excessive litigation for increased rates.

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With litigation declining, will your insurance premiums decline?

Sharon Landry saw the premium for her homeowner’s insurance policy surge in 2021, from $1,318 a year to $2,153 a year.

“To me, it’s just not right that insurance companies are allowed to do this,” Landry told News 6.

“It kind of throws you into a panic mode,” she said.

Tens of thousands of Floridians have seen their premiums increase over the last year and a half.

Others, like Susie Blanchard, are being dropped altogether.

“It’s very stressful,” Blanchard said.  “It makes me angry as well,” she said.

Mark Friedlander with the Insurance Information Institute, an association of insurers, said the biggest reason for the turbulence in the market is fraud and lawsuits.

“The property insurance market in Florida is very volatile right now,” Friedlander told News 6.

“Fraudulent roofing claims and frivolous lawsuits are really off the scale this year,” he said.

Birny Birnbaum is the Executive Director of the Center for Economic Justice, which has as one of its missions keeping insurance affordable.

Birnbaum has testified before Congress on insurance issues.

“When companies claim litigation is the problem. It’s a red herring issue,” Birnbaum said.

Litigation is not as widespread as insurers claim, according to Birnbaum.

“The data shows that it’s a handful of companies that are experiencing that explosion in litigation,” Birnbaum said.

“And that suggests that there’s an issue with regulatory oversight and claim settlement practices for those companies,” Birnbaum said.

Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation also pointed to “excessive litigation”, but News 6 has learned lawsuits have been on a steady decline in recent months, according to CasGlide, a litigation tracking company.

In July of 2021, there were more than 6,663 new claims filed, but by December of 2021, that number was down 49%, based on information from Floridas 17 largest property insurers, according to Wesley Todd, he is the CEO of CaseGlide.

“The December 2021 results are following a normal pattern of trailing off as the calendar year ends,” Todd said.

“The 49% decrease from the July high of 6,663 is most likely tied to the SB76 Bill going into effect, and we expect to see levels normalize as we move into 2022, Todd said.

Three insurers saw a decrease of at least 20% from November to December, Todd said.

Three others had decreased between 10% and 19%, he said.

One insurer experienced an increase of 28%, four had increases between 1% and 5% and another showed no change month-over-month, according to Todd.

“It’s just been year after a year of insurance companies coming in and saying, well, the problem is litigation, the problem is litigation,” Birnbaum said.

The Florida legislature passed SB 76 which took effect last July.

Part of the law sets rules for lawsuits against property insurers including the number of attorney’s fees.

Birnbaum doubts the decline will make a difference in what consumers pay in premiums, he said.

“They get the laws that they want to be passed that reduce consumers’ access to the courts, yet the rates never go down,” Birnbaum said.

SB76 will help stabilize rates for consumers, but it will take time, a spokesperson from Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation told News 6.

News 6 will continue to follow property insurance issues.

About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning reporter Louis Bolden joined the News 6 team in September of 2001 and hasn't gotten a moment's rest since. Louis has been a General Assignment Reporter for News 6 and Weekend Morning Anchor. He joined the Special Projects/Investigative Unit in 2014.