Report: Miami-Dade lawyers cause headaches for Citizens Property Insurance
Aggressive lawyers in Miami-Dade say the only way many Citizens’ policyholders can get claims paid is to take the company to court, and a new report shows the aggressive tactics are responsible for a surge in lawsuits
Mary Ellen Klas
Citizens Property Insurance spent $100 million in the past two years in legal fees and says its legal bills are rising because a handful of aggressive South Florida law firms — most in Miami-Dade County — have targeted the insurance giant with water-damage claims in a hurricane-free year.
According to a report the insurer released Monday, while Miami-Dade residents have 19 percent of all Citizens policies in force, the county “accounts for 33 percent of all reported claims and 60 percent of all litigated claims statewide,” with the bulk of those claims coming from water-damage losses.
In addition, 84 percent of all claims in the past five years have originated in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, the report said. Ten law firms are responsible for 50 percent of the lawsuits against the company and 60 percent of those suits come from Miami-Dade.
(PalmBeachPost.com) Honk now if you want to kill Florida’s costly no-fault car insurance. By Charles Elmore
After more than 40 years, Florida’s no-fault car insurance system would end by 2019 under a bill filed by state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. “The system is broken and rife with fraud and abuse,” Brandes said. “There is no amount of tweaking that will fix PIP. Florida can do better, and this repeal will force policymakers to address this important issue impacting every driver in our state.” (...) Click here for full article
(Dec. 21st, 2015) TALLAHASSEE - The state's personal-injury protection auto insurance system, known as "no-fault," would end in 2019 under proposals ready to go before lawmakers.
Rep. Bill Hager, R-Delray Beach, filed a proposal (HB 997) last week, two months after Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty tossed out the idea of, "Let's just repeal PIP and do nothing," as a way to further reduce fraud in the personal-injury protection system.The repeal idea also appears to have backing from state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. Atwater, who along with Gov. Rick Scott championed 2012 changes intended to fight fraud in the no-fault system, had maintained as recently as October that time was needed to see the impact of the legislative changes. On Monday, a spokeswoman for Atwater said that the "time has now passed." "Ultimately, it's a policy decision for the Legislature to make, but two years after the passage of the PIP legislation, it's time for the insurance industry to bring forward evidence that shows whether or not rates are going to come down," Atwater spokeswoman Ashley Carr said in an email. "If consumers aren't going to get the relief the legislation intended, then the time to repeal has arrived."Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, filed the Senate version (SB 1112) of Hager's proposal on Dec. 11. The identical measures would require motorists to have a minimum of property-damage and bodily-injury liability coverage. Under the decades-old no-fault system, intended to make insurance claims less adversarial than lawsuits, motorists are required to carry personal-injury protection coverage that includes $10,000 in medical benefits. However, questions have grown over the limits of $10,000 in medical coverage, while efforts to remove fraud from the no-fault system have resulted in more coverage restrictions.With lawmakers estimating that the average Florida motorist was paying $180 a year for the personal-injury protection portion of their auto coverage, a 2012 law set benchmarks for insurers to lower rates on the coverage. The law also required people involved in crashes to seek treatment within 14 days and allowed up to $10,000 in benefits for emergency medical conditions, while putting a $2,500 cap on non-emergency conditions.
FLORIDA ADVOCATES sponsors fundraiser for
Neighbors 4 Neighbors - "Singing with the Stars" at
Hard Rock Cafe (June 19th, 2015)
GREAT NEWS! NO NW
PIP LAWS THIS YEAR
None of the bills
attacking PIP or assignments of benefits passed this legislative session which
has just ended early. Unless the issues are brought up in a special
session (which is highly unlikely) we should be fine for another year.
LATEST NEWS FROM TALLAHASSEE
February 24th, 2015
CURRENT LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS AFFECTING PIP PROVIDERS:
HB 669 – RUSSEL LAZEGA'S ASSESSMENT: HORRIBLE FOR PIP
PROVIDERS. WOULD EFFECTIVELY BAR YOU FROM BEING ABLE TO CHALLENGE PIP
INSURER DENIALS AND REDUCTIONS BY MAKING THE INSURANCE COMPANY EFFECTIVELY
IMMUNE FROM HAVING TO PAY ATTORNEY’S FEES TO YOU IF THEY LOSE. WOULD MEAN
THAT YOU WOULD HAVE TO RELY ON PATIENT TO PAY THE BILL AND COLLECT FROM THEIR
OWN INSURER OR PAY YOUR OWN LAWYER OUT OF POCKET. HIGHLY RECOMMEND
TO VOICE OPPOSITION AS A PRIORITY.
General Bill by Tobia
Insurance Claims by Third Parties: Provides
for assignment of post-loss benefits; prohibits award of attorney fees in
certain suits brought by third party to insurance contract.
CS/HB 165 – RUSS LAZEGA'S ASSESSMENT – RELATIVELY NEUTRAL
TO PIP PROVIDERS
General Bill by Insurance & Banking Subcommittee and
Property and Casualty Insurance: Revises
provisions for making & use of rates for motor vehicle insurance;
increases amount of prior notice required with respect to nonrenewal,
cancellation, or termination of certain insurance policies; deletes certain
provisions that require extended periods of prior notice with respect to
nonrenewal, cancellation, or termination of certain insurance policies;
prohibits cancellation of certain policies; provides that policy or contract
may not be cancelled based on certain credit information; authorizes
policyholder of personal lines insurance to affirmatively elect delivery of
policy documents by electronic means; revises notification requirements for
participation in neutral evaluation program; revises time period for
applicability of certain Medicare fee schedules or payment limitations;
revises preinsurance inspection requirements for private passenger motor
HB 803 – RUSSEL LAZEGA'S ASSESSMENT – DRAMATIC EFFECT ON PIP
General Bill by Trujillo
Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance: Revises
legislative intent with respect to financial responsibility for damages
caused by operation of motor vehicle; increases financial responsibility
limits with respect to bodily injury or death; revises required threshold
limit for self-insurers; repeals Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law; provides
for termination of personal injury protection policies; requires maintaining
minimum security requirements allowing person to respond to property damage
& bodily injury by certain date; requires insurer to notify insured about
such changes by certain date; provides for applicability of suspensions for
failure to maintain security; conforms provisions.
There has also been some discussion of proposing
to eliminate the requirement to carry PIP insurance for people that prove that
they have health insurance. Will keep you posted as this develops.
FLORIDA'S NEW PIP LAW EXPLAINED
Click Here for Free Video Seminar on 2012 PIP Law
SUPREME COURT DECIDES FEE SCHEDULE REDUCTION CASE
By RUSSEL LAZEGA
THE SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA on July 5, 21013 ruled that PIP insurers may not apply the 2008 PIP medical fee schedule to reduce medical provider bills unless the insurance policy specifically indicated that this payment methodology would be used. What this means for Florida hospitals and medical providers is that medical providers may be able to go back as far as 2008 and recoup these reductions from the insurers.
Click here for link to court decision
SUPREME COURT RULES AGAINST INSURER IN PIP DISPUTE
By JIM SAUNDERS
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, June 27, 2013.........In a blow to the insurance industry, a divided Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that Geico could not require a woman to give a statement under oath as a condition of receiving injury benefits after an auto accident.
Click for Link to Full Article
Click for Link to Opinion (Supreme Court Cites Russel Lazega as Authoritative Source on P.I.P.)
MORE TALKS OF SCRAPPING PIP FOR MANDATORY BI
Click here for link to articles
APPEALS COURT OVERTURNS INJUNCTION ON NEW PIP LAW
The Florida 1st District Court of Appeal has overturned an injunction issued by Tallahassee Judge Terry Lewis which had barred the Department of FInancial Services from enforcing parts of the new PIP law. The appeals court found that the massage therapists and acupuncturists who brought the challenge lacked any legal standing or right to bring the claim because they were not the injured accident victim and therefore did not suffer direct injury as a result of the law. The decision clearly leaves open the possibility of future challenges to the law law by accident victims as well as possible appeal to the Supreme Court. We'll keep watching as the battle has just started.
Click Below for Link to Articles
Article on Original Injunction
SENATE CONSIDERS PLAN TO REPLACE PIP WITH MANDATORY BI
Click Below for Link to Article
David Bierman featured interview on
CNN/Comcast Newsmakers regarding
homeowner's insurance laws.
Russel Lazega featured interview with
Kelly Craig on Channel 6 news regarding
homeowner's insurance issues.