If you live in Florida, you may be insured through Citizens Property Insurance, the largest provider in the state. Even if you don’t have homeowners’ insurance with Citizens, you’ve likely heard about the massive accumulation of legal fees the organization has sustained due to lawsuits filed for unpaid claims.
Citizens denies a lot of claims on a yearly basis, and because of this has faced hundreds of lawsuits claiming that it uses unfair practices. Approximately 12,000 policyholders have filed suits in order to get their claims paid, leaving Citizens with $21 million in legal fees in the last three months of 2013 alone.
This issues is important not only to home and business owners insured with Citizens, but also to every Florida resident. Because it is a quasi-public agency, every homeowner in the state pays a fee on their private insurance premiums to help fund Citizens. Thus, we all have a stake in Citizens and the way it conducts business.
The cost to Citizens
With the high number of claims Citizens must deal with, particularly those related to sinkholes, the insurer has opted to fight many of the lawsuits and claims rather than settling. By choosing this option, the organization is accumulating millions of dollars in legal fees. The legal fees alone now amount to about $2,100 per sinkhole claim, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Citizens is also hiring the West Palm Beach law firm of Ackerman, Link & Sartory for $6.5 million over the course of five years to coordinate its new legal strategy. This strategy may involve denying many of the claims outright and delaying others in order to spur advantageous settlements.
Where does this leave you?
As Florida Citizens Property Insurance deals with mounting legal costs, in addition to the extraordinary number of homeowners’ insurance claims it faces, the organization has little choice but to transfer the costs to its policyholders through higher premiums. It is also in the middle of an effort to dump many of its policies to the private market, an effort that has not always been transparent and fair.
If you’re covered through Citizens, live in Florida, and need to file a claim for damage to your property caused by a storm, burst pipe, leaky roof, vandalism or another issue, it’s important to speak with a public adjuster to make sure you get the most out of this process. Considering Citizens’ tendency to deny claims to save money, working with a third-party public adjuster, who knows the insurance industry well, can help you navigate this process.
Advocate Claims Public Adjusters works with home and business owners across Florida, including West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Delray Beach, Wellington and Boynton Beach. Contact us today by calling 1-954-369-0573 or by contacting us online.