Bill to cut claims abuses ad­vances

Leg­is­la­tion aimed at wa­ter restora­tion com­pa­nies, at­tor­neys

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - MONEY - By Ron Hurt­ibise Staff writer

At­tor­neys fees would be more dif­fi­cult for “bad ac­tor” wa­ter restora­tion com­pa­nies and their at­tor­neys to col­lect from in­sur­ance com­pa­nies un­der a bill ad­vanced Tues­day by the state House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee.

The com­mit­tee voted 13-5 to ad­vance the bill to the full House de­spite con­cerns by some mem­bers that it would tilt the play­ing field too far in fa­vor of in­sur­ance com­pa­nies in dis­putes over how much should be paid to re­pair dam­aged prop­er­ties.

Sim­i­lar to a bill that passed the full House last spring but wasn’t con­sid­ered in the Senate, the new bill aims to re­move in­cen­tives for wa­ter restora­tion com­pa­nies and their at­tor­neys to sue in­sur­ers.

Florida law has long en­abled in­sur­ance pol­i­cy­hold­ers to dis­pute in­sur­ers’ set­tle­ment of­fers in court with­out the risk they’d be forced to pay in­sur­ers’ le­gal fees if they lose.

But in­sur­ers con­tend the so-called one-way at­tor­ney fee pro­vi­sion is abused by a group of restora­tion com­pa­nies and their at­tor­neys — mostly in Broward and Palm Beach coun­ties — who per­suade home­own­ers to sign over ben­e­fits of their claims, then file law­suits by the hun­dreds to co­erce in­sur­ers to set­tle for any amount over their orig­i­nal of­fers. Those set­tle­ments en­ti­tle the restora­tion com­pa­nies’ at­tor­neys to claim thou­sands of dol­lars in le­gal fees.

Pol­i­cy­hold­ers statewide pay for the abuses through an­nual rate in­creases that won’t stop un­less the Leg­is­la­ture shuts down easy ac­cess to one-way at­tor­neys fees, in­sur­ers con­tend.

The new bill, spon­sored by Rep. Jay Trum­bull, RPanama City, would es­tab­lish a com­pli­cated for­mula to dic­tate whether plain­tiffs work­ing un­der as­sign­ments

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.