Citizens Property Insurance currently faces a serious lawsuit problem. In recent years, over 12,000 policyholders have filed suit against Citizens, the state run insurer, to obtain payment for their denied claims. The cost of defending these suits is rising, reaching over $21 million in three months alone.
Much litigation has arisen out of so-called sinkhole alley, the section of Florida that includes Pasco, Hillsborough, Hernando, and counties. This portion of the state rests on porous lime stone beds. Our Florida homeowners’ insurance lawyers understand how Citizens has consistently denied insurance claims stemming from sinkholes, and their legal costs just on sinkhole litigation alone have doubled in just one year. The agency spent around 944,345 per month in 2012. This number jumped to $2,050,106 in 2013. Now, an additional 2,100 homeowners have filed suit against Citizens, bringing their combined legal bills to more than $4.4 million a month, or an average of $2,100 per sinkhole claim.
To cope with the mounting lawsuits, Citizens has launched a twofold attack in the courtroom and at the Capitol. The agency has taken the following actions:
• Hiring a Palm Beach law firm for a figure of $6.5 million over five years to develop a legal strategy that includes denying claims and delaying payment
• It is backing SB 416, a measure that would leave repair decisions in the hands of an approved set of contractors, many of which use the controversial grout in the ground repair method
• It is lobbying for SB 708 which would prevent homeowners from signing over insurance payments directly to contractors to obtain emergency work
• Citizens is urging homeowners to settle their lawsuits so that both sides can avoid further litigation expenses
Citizens recently reached a global settlement with a Central Florida firm that represents more than 300 policyholders. The policyholders have not yet signed onto the deal, however, and counsel has 60 days to obtain a commitment. Under the settlement, Citizens has agreed to pay for underground repairs as recommended by an engineer so long as the work is done by a contractor chosen from an approved list.
Critics of Citizens argue that the company is currently outlaying more costs to defend against lawsuits than it would by simply paying policyholders what they are owed. Citizens countered that many policyholders receive a check for the funds and fail to make necessary repairs, resulting in communities with damaged homes and further hurting the state. According to recent data, Citizens has settled and closed only 253 cases in the last year. This number is down from 488 in 2011. Meanwhile, the costs of litigation continue to climb. Since August of 2012, Citizens has spent over $27 million on investigation costs, expert witnesses, and geotechnical costs in defending their cases. Our firm has been filing more and more lawsuits against Citizen’s for underpayment of claims and for denials. We have resolved many of these cases favorably for our clients, getting them the money they deserve and are entitled to under the policy for their loss. We always try and negotiate fairly with Citizen’s as we do with all Home Owner Insurance companies. For those claims tat are adjusted fairly, settlement is reached. For those cases where we and our client disagree with the insurance company we file suit. We make sure that we are solid in our position, hiring the best experts and having estimates upon which to base our position.
Greenberg Stone and Urbano: Miami Homeowners Insurance Lawyers Working Hard for Our Clients
If your homeowners’ insurance claim has been denied, call the skilled homeowners’ insurance attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano Our attorneys have more than 120 years of combined experience in getting justice for homeowners. Our dedication to our clients has led to an “AV” rating from Martindale Hubbell, and it is why we have been asked to join Primerus, an international society of leading law firms. Moreover, the Miami Herald voted us as one of the top-rated South Florida law firm, and, we have earned the title of “Superlawyers,” designating us as being among the best lawyers in America. We want to put this dedication to work for you, so call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule an initial consultation.