Claims audit could spark legislative battle: impacts on the bottom lines at Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and Cat Fund.

A state audit released in January could spark a fierce legislative battle this spring and raises additional concerns about the viability of both Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund (Cat Fund).

State auditors found that Citizens’ policyholders who hire public adjusters wind up getting more money for their claims than those without public adjusters.

Auditors who work for the Florida Legislature The Florida Legislature is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Florida. The Florida Constitution mandates a bicameral state legislature with an upper house Florida Senate of 40 members and a lower Florida House of Representatives of 120 members.  spent months combing through claims data filed with Citizens, the state’s largest property insurer with more than one million policyholders. The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability sorted through more than 76,000 claims filed between March 2008 and June 2009.

Most of those claims were for non-catastrophic events, but nearly 15,000 of them were for claims related to the hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004 and 2005. Under Florida law The jurisprudence of this state offers major differences from doctrines prevailing in the United States at either the federal level or that of the various states.

Homestead exemption from forced sale, the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, the right to privacy, and the Williams , there is no limit for when a claim may be filed, although there is a five-year limit on filing a lawsuit about a claim.

State auditors concluded that policyholders who hire public adjusters wound up waiting longer to resolve their claims, with figures ranging from 132 to 296 days longer than claims without public adjuster A public adjuster is an an advocate for the policy holder in negotiating an insurance claim. Public Adjusters exist because of the inherent conflict of interest that exists when one person or entity attempts to represent two sides of a financial transaction.  representation. However, the data analyzed by auditors also showed that public adjusters eventually obtained larger settlements for Citizens’ policyholders than those who did not use them.

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