Just one week before the Florida Legislature will reconvene in Special Session to consider an overhaul to the state’s property insurance laws, a nonprofit homeowners and independent contractor rights association sued the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation and two insurance companies. The lawsuit asserts that Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier and Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) improperly allowed the companies to circumvent state law in order to change customers’ policies, violating state law and the Florida Constitution.
The Restoration Association of Florida (RAF) filed the suit in Leon County Circuit Court, arguing that Altmaier violated public policy established by the Legislature when he allowed American Integrity Insurance Company of Florida and Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance Company to change consumers’ insurance policies. Those changes restricted homeowners’ rights regarding repair work and violated Florida’s Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights, the lawsuit says.
“Every year, Florida homeowners and businesses pay the ever-increasing cost of property insurance premiums with the expectation that they will be covered when they need it most,” said RAF President Richie Kidwell. “It’s only then that they realize state regulators have allowed insurance companies to unjustifiably stack the deck against them and erode their ability to be made whole.”
The complaint states that insurance companies have been allowed “to mount as many barriers as possible to homeowners receiving the proceeds of their policies for lawful claims while, at the same time, reaping the benefits of policy premiums paid by Floridians.”
A spokeswoman for the Office of Insurance Regulation declined to comment on the pending litigation. Neither of the two insurance companies immediately responded to messages seeking comment for this story.
The association asked the court to issue an injunction declaring the revised insurance policies invalid, and seeks to allow its members to continue to work with homeowners to perform necessary repairs or inspection services without restrictions from policy revisions by the two companies.
Florida lawmakers have faced increasing pressure to do something to help Florida’s insurance industry after several companies were declared insolvent, or pulled out of Florida with widespread policy cancellations. Earlier Tuesday, OIR considered rate hikes in a pair of hearings.
But Kidwell noted that insurance companies across the nation have reaped billions of dollars in profits over the last several years, while homeowners and other property owners have suffered from escalating insurance premiums. He said home insurance-related lawsuits have reportedly declined as a result of legislation passed by the Florida Legislature in 2021, but insurance companies have still refused to lower premiums.
“Insurance companies have shown a steady and repeated pattern of grabbing every dollar they can from consumers and then doing everything they can to keep that money for themselves, rather than lower rates for their customers,” Kidwell said. “This must change if Floridians want to receive relief from skyrocketing insurance premiums.”
To view a copy of the lawsuit, click here.