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Fla.’s Insurer-of-Last-Resort Sees Lawsuits Spike

From Jan. through Sept., Citizens Ins. received an average 878 new lawsuits each month – a 45% increase compared to the same timeframe in 2020.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – State-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. was hit with 7,899 lawsuits during the first nine months of 2021 – an increase in new and pending cases, according to an executive summary prepared for a committee of the Citizens Board of Governors.

The average of 878 new lawsuits a month from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30 was a 45% increase over the same period in 2020. As of Sept. 30, Citizens had 16,240 pending lawsuits, a 34% increase from a year earlier.

The executive summary, prepared for a Thursday meeting of the board’s Claims Committee, said 7,798 of the new lawsuits (over 99%) involved residential properties. Of those, 6,623 (85%) were from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, a so-called “tri-county” area where Citizens has large numbers of customers.

“While the tri-county area continues to lead the state in lawsuit volume, we continue to experience an increasing trend of new, incoming lawsuits arising out of the Central West (Tampa area) region and other areas of the state,” the executive summary said.

Lawmakers this spring passed a measure (SB 76) that included steps to try to curb lawsuits against property insurers, but the executive summary said it’s too early to see the impact of the measure on litigation.

A continuing number of Florida homeowners have been turning to Citizens after years of declining policy numbers. As of Oct. 31, Citizens had 725,942 policies, an increase from 420,000 policies in October 2019.

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