Tampa Times 

By Lawrence Mower

Long-awaited study finds signs of potential fraud in South Florida, but also indications of bad practices by insurers.

TALLAHASSEE — For years, insurance companies and state lawmakers have blamed lawsuits for driving Floridians’ homeowners insurance premiums to the highest in the nation.

A new long-awaited study commissioned by the Legislature supports that — somewhat.

An analysis of 58,395 insurance claims that led to lawsuits in 2022 found that a disproportionate number were filed in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, an indication of potentially fraudulent or abusive practices there.

And those litigated claims were more than six times more expensive than claims that did not lead to a lawsuit, which could contribute to higher premiums.

“We clearly had a litigation issue going on in this state,” said Florida Insurance Commissioner Mike Yaworsky, whose office collected the data and issued the report, posted online over the weekend. “This high disparity exists that ultimately everyone in the state is paying for, or has been paying for.”

But the report does not match the rhetoric from Gov. Ron DeSantis and insurance companies that frivolous or abusive lawsuits were causing record losses and soaring premiums. Lawmakers in four legislative sessions have made it successively harder to sue insurance companies, which has not resulted in lower premiums. Among the changes brought by legislators: Policyholders now have to pay their own attorneys fees if suing an insurer.

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