Will Citizens Property Insurance Disputes Be Handled By Government Administrative Judges?

Florida’s leader in tough claims handling and policyholder abuse is Citizens Property Insurance. It is immune from accountability to Florida Statutes regarding wrongful claims handling conduct. Like a thief with no laws against robbery, Citizens can do what it wants and not be liable to the victim. Now, Citizens Property wants more protection from accountability to contract obligations by sending its claims disputes to Florida’s administrative courts.

In a story by the Insurance Journal, Goodbye Courtroom? Florida Citizens Wants Claims Disputes Heard by Admin Judges, it was reported that:

The Citizens Board of Governors on Wednesday voted to move ahead with a policy endorsement that would allow the insurer or the insured to send claims disputes to the state Division of Administrative Hearings, known as DOAH. Both parties would not need to agree to the DOAH venue.

… the endorsement also would cap plaintiffs’ attorney fees at about $200 an hour, with no fee multipliers, which ultimately could save the insurer thousands of dollars each year in legal costs.

Citizens will file for the endorsement soon, officials said. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation will decide if it should be approved.

If the endorsement is approved, Citizens said that the endorsement could be added to policies by next February.

This is another way people lose rights. Governments have historically wanted their own government judges to decide matters—governments do not trust juries. Citizens will argue that the contractual obligations mandate this scenario, as if the policyholder had any say in the policy language which disposes of a person’s right to a jury trial.

But doesn’t this have to be approved by the Office of Insurance Regulation? I am not holding my breath that Florida’s current OIR regime is living up to its obligation to protect policyholders. Maybe I will be proven wrong. I hope so.

Thought For The Day

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.
—Groucho Marx
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