Longtime residents remember Hurricane Andrew. It was one of the strongest hurricanes to hit us in decades, and it did more than $15 billion in insured losses, including destroying over 25,000 homes.
Unfortunately, even though Hurricane Ian was a less severe storm, the losses may be greater. Of course, this means there will be litigation with homeowners’ insurance policies.
From the ground
Most insurance agents on the ground say that it has never been this bad. With the already-existing supply chain issues and skilled-trades labor shortages, costs and wait times have exploded.
This is especially true as the area that Ian hit was nearly identical to the area hit by Andrew. As a result, the state-subsidized, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., will become a reinsurer for underfunded and struggling insurance companies.
Litigation friendly state
In many states, insurance companies have the upper hand in insurance litigation as plaintiffs can be on the hook for attorneys’ fees, even if they win. However, under Florida statutes, if you win your litigation against your insurance company, the insurance company must pay for your attorneys’ fees.
Puts plaintiffs on equal footing
Having an attorney can put you on equal footing with your Florida insurance company. Insurers have much better access to funds than you do, and in states where you do not have the option to have your attorneys’ fees covered, you may not be able to get an attorney.
This means that your insurance company could undervalue your claims, and you would have extraordinarily little recourse. For homeowners, this can be a double whammy as you already likely could not get full flood and hurricane coverage on your house.
Attorneys’ fees can increase payouts and accountability
Florida residents reap other benefits from these statutes as well. For one, the threat of attorneys’ fees ensures that insurance companies hold themselves accountable and act more reasonably to avoid litigation. It also means that attorneys can negotiate insurance settlements larger than policy limits.
The takeaway here is that, while times look bleak now, know that you have options.