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Archive for the ‘Insurance law’ Category

Guns and Property Insurance – It’s a New Day!

In Insurance law, Insurance News on February 24, 2014 at 1:32

A proposed plan in the legislature would prevent insurers from refusing to issue a policy to a gun owner who has legal ownership of his or her firearms.  Insurers sometimes use gun ownership as one of several factors to determine insurances rates.

It makes sense.  If you live on the coast where flooding could happen, rates are higher.  If you live in Texas or Florida or other hurricane state, rates are higher.  Why not have higher rates if there’s a decent possibility of weapons damage?

The new plan would eliminate that element in rate consideration.  If it passes, it will take effect July 1.

Here’s the House bill in its entirety.

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Fraud Will be Punished

In Insurance Fraud, Insurance Industry, Insurance law on January 16, 2014 at 1:32

The healthcare industry is cracking down on Medicare Fraud.  The auto industry has long been battling fraud.   Now homeowners’ insurance industry is making fraud detection a major effort. It’s been a serious issue for a while, and unscrupulous public adjusters add to the criminality.

Recently, Jorge Fausto Espinosa, a Florida public adjuster, was charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and using fire to commit a felony.  In short, he was an arsonist looking to generate $2.3 million from insurance companies.  He was abetted by a convicted Medicare fraud offender.

Fraud is fraud, and the authorities will catch up to criminals.  Insurance fraud costs billions.   It is one of the leading causes of premium hikes.  It’s worth it to everyone to crack down – today.

Jason Wolf Makes Claims Journal’s Top 10 Legal Articles of 2013 List

In Contributing Writer, Firm News, Insurance Industry, Insurance law on January 10, 2014 at 1:32

Attorney Jason Wolf’s article Why Do People Keep Suing Property Insurance Companies? made Claims Journal’s Top 10 Legal Articles of 2013. Jason’s article was the 6th most popular article authored by industry legal experts. Jason has contributed to Claims Journal multiple times regarding Property Insurance Law.

Click here to see the full list and read Jason’s article.

Lawsuits + Settlements = More Lawsuits

In Insurance Companies, Insurance Industry, Insurance law on January 6, 2014 at 1:32

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Why do people keep suing property insurance companies?  It’s a question with a lot of replies.  Here’s mine.  They do it because plaintiff’s attorneys can get paid fees, and insurance companies are quick to settle.  What can be done?  Defend those cases and let the plaintiff’s attorneys and the homeowners think twice before they sue frivolously because they’ve heard it’s easy to get settlement payments.

Claims Journal thought it was worth considering. Read my article here.

New Insurers on the Scene

In Insurance Industry, Insurance law, Insurance News on December 16, 2013 at 1:32

EPIC Insurers, based on the acronym Elements Property Insurance Co. is now a player in the Florida market.  The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has licensed the company to write homeowners insurance in Florida.  With hurricanes and fraud being so prevalent, a new company is always welcome.

Property Casualty360 discusses why the company decided to come aboard.  Read more here.

The Flood Insurance Conundrum

In Florida, Insurance law, Insurance News, Real Estate on October 11, 2013 at 1:32

The Tampa Bay Times, formerly the St. Petersburg Times, authored a well-thought out editorial column addressing issues behind the debt-ridden flood insurance program.  Last year, the Biggert-Waters Act was passed.  The Act was created to acknowledge and focus on flood insurance and the subsidies that were in place for properties in the ‘70s, the Act may have other effects that will impact real estate in general.  The Times suggests that coastal homes will be dramatically devalued and also suggests that this is a devastating way to address the issue.

Pinellas County is the national leader with more than 50,000 policies that are subsidized.  Miami-Dade is right behind with more than 47,000.  Not every one of these homes is the domain of the super-wealthy.  The removal of the subsidies will hurt many people who have own modest homes that are statistically in a flood zone.

The Times urges congress to consider a reasonable policy, and to rethink the Biggert-Waters Act, which, it says “threatens to destroy Florida’s real estate market.”

Insurance Reform Bill

In Florida, Florida Legislation, Insurance, Insurance Fraud, Insurance Industry, Insurance law on August 16, 2013 at 1:32

TV stations across the state report on the insurance reform bill – which rejected most changes to current law.

As always, this is an issue in the legislature, and consumers and insurance company’s voices are heard.

The concern for so many insurance companies is the fraud that comes so frequently.  Sam Miller of the Florida Insurance Council notes that companies are in the business of helping those who suffer damage and have all the right policies.  “We want to make sure we pay the legitimate claims but we don’t pay for fraudulent claims.”

As this blog has noted a number of times, fraud is a real concern in the industry and unless it is combatting vigorously, even legitimate cases will be more scrutinized.

Read more here.

Insurance Consumer Advocate Forms Homeowners’ Policy & Claims Bill of Rights Working Group

In homeowner's insurance, Insurance law, Insurance News, Uncategorized on August 13, 2013 at 1:32

Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Smith Westcott has launched a new working group to discuss potential improvements to the homeowners’ insurance claim process. The sole purpose of the working group is to help better serve Florida homeowners who suffer a financial loss.

The idea for the group stemmed from the feedback that Westcott received from a series of Insurance Consumer Forums. The forums provided a platform for Florida homeowners to discuss their experiences with filing a claim.

Unfortunately, many homeowners described long and frustrating processes that impeded their families’ ability to recover.  Westcott stated, “Consumers should not be victimized by poor claims handling and unscrupulous business practices by those seeking to exploit homeowners when they are most vulnerable.”

To learn more about issues that will be discussed by the working group read the Office of The Insurance Consumer Advocate Press Release.

What’s the Story on “Resident Premises?”

In Insurance law, Insurance News, Property Insurance on August 2, 2013 at 1:32

A recent Claims Journal article provides insight and further clarity – or reasons for confusion – regarding the phrase “resident premises.”

According to the report, “An insured must reside at their property to have coverage for damage to their home under an HO form policy. The defense arises out of the typical HO policy’s definition of ‘residence premises,’ and the introductory clause in the building coverage portion of the policy that explains what the insurer covers.

“Insurers previously relied on the ‘vacancy’ exclusion in these circumstances. The ‘vacancy’ exclusion, however, only precludes coverage for homes that are devoid of all contents.”

This definition relates to a case from more than 40 years ago — Hehemann v. Michigan Millers Mut. Ins. Co., 240 So. 2d 851, 854 (Fla. 4th DCA 1970).

Appellate decisions are still in limbo in on the clear directive of “residence premises.”

Cap on Public Adjusters Fees Lifted

In Florida Legislation, Florida Property Insurance, Insurance law, Insurance News, News Article on May 17, 2013 at 1:32

Florida lawmakers have repealed a 10 percent cap on fees paid to public adjusters who handle claims from the state-backed property insurer. The new law will certainly impact new claims, new lawsuits and the upcoming storm season in numerous ways. One specific instance is that this new law requires public adjusters to meet with the insurer and try to settle the claim as opposed to refusing to meet the insurer and forcing the claim into court.

According to Claims Journal, “The Department of Financial Services currently licenses some 33,000 resident adjusters and 51,500 non-resident adjusters. Out of those, there are roughly 15,000 independent adjusters who live in the state and 16,000 who do business in the state but resided elsewhere.”   There’s a significant population that this impacts.