A Civilized Convention of Cannibals

That’s what I like to affectionately call our annual state legislative session in Tallahassee. It’s the time of year when special interests and lobbyists swarm the Capitol looking to secure their heaping slice of the budgetary pie or just gain a good-ol’ fashioned jump on the competition and profits. Sadly, the top of this year’s menu seems to be insurance customers – particularly those of us paying for property insurance.

Here’s what’s been served up for dinner so far:

1) A proposal to prohibit or dramatically limit the right of property owners to assign payment of their insurance claim directly to the contractors and remediation companies doing damage repairs. Currently, for emergency repair cases (such as pipe breaks in the middle of the night) contractors will often work without payment up front if you have good insurance and instruct the insurance company to pay them directly. Legislators in Tallahassee (at the request of big insurance) want to outlaw this practice leaving consumers to come up with cash in a pinch to fix their homes and forcing the homeowner (instead of the contractor) to battle the insurance company for payment.

2) Insurers and legislators continue to oppose efforts to make the appraisal process easier and cheaper for property owners fighting with their insurers over the cost to repair a home. Currently, if an insurer contests the damage estimate the insurer may demand that the dispute be resolved through a costly appraisal process (often $2,500-$5,000). You, the insured, pay half of this expense. Shockingly, insurance companies routinely send demands for appraisal along with lowball offers. “Take less or pay for appraisal,” they say.

So this legislative session keep an eye out for what’s in the cannibal’s cauldron? If you pay for property insurance in Florida – it may be you.

Russel Lazega is an attorney and author of two of Florida’s most widely distributed legal textbooks on Florida Insurance Law. He also represents accident victims and consumers at war with their insurance companies and is based in North Miami, Dania Beach, Orlando and Tampa, Florida. Questions? Contact: Russ@fladvocates.com.

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