May 2022

16 Florida Pool Prosm • May 2022 INSURANCE UPDATE Citizens Property Insurance to protect their homes. That is up 222,000 policies compared to 2020 and citizens has its own challenges with which to contend. In January of this year, the insurer was served with 943 lawsuits, a 41% increase over January 2021. The vast majority of the suits were from homeowners, and most were filed in South Florida. The number of new litigated claims increased by a third last year over the previous year. In 2021, Citizens, the state-run insurer, was hit with 10,085 lawsuits, or an average of 878 new suits per month. Water damage is increasingly a cost driver. “Water-loss lawsuits are also now on a sharp upward trend, reversing the previous downward trend experienced from 2020 to 2021,” reads a report to the Citizens Claims Committee. Assignment-of-benefits suits made up about a third of the residential lawsuits in 2021, a 14% increase over the previous year. In January 2022, Citizens saw 1,146 AOB lawsuits. If that level continues, 2022 numbers will outpace 2021 by about 2,000. If you're looking for an end to this premium crunch, Friedlander paints a bleak picture. The average yearly cost to keep a policy in this state is nearly double what it is in the rest of the country. "We will continue to see rising insurance costs for at least the next year or two, regardless of what happens with the Legislature. It will not be an immediate fix," said Friedlander. Some state officials and industry advocates have said the pullbacks, along with major rate increase requests from other insurers, are the latest indications that Florida’s insurance crisis may be worsening, likely leading to a market with only a handful of carriers left standing in years to come. “All of these companies suspending writing should be the canary in the coal mine for lawmakers,” said William Stander, director of the Florida Property and Casualty Association (FAIA). During the 2022 Legislative Session, FAIA advocated for several priority bills—SB 1728 (Boyd)/HB 1307 (Gregory) and SB 468 (Perry)/HB 503 (Gregory). The bills were merged into one insurance bill (SB 468) seeking to tackle issues, including: • Confronting the "free-roof" scam; • Prohibiting abusive solicitation tactics utilized by contractors/roofers; • Enforcing attorney pre-suit notice requirements; and,