DeSantis calls for special legislative session over property insurance crisis in Florida

Insurance rates are going through the roof as companies try to hedge their assets against the next big storm.

MIAMI – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has called for another special session of the legislature to deal with the insurance crisis affecting every homeowner in the state.

The special session comes a week before hurricane season, but those involved say it is less about storm damage and more about litigation over roofing costs.

“What seems to be the issue of the day are roof claims,” said Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier. “The number and the cost.”

The head of Citizen’s Property Insurance, Florida’s insurance of last resort, says defending lawsuits cost more than customers’ claims.

“That has been a money grab by attorneys, by public adjusters, and by contractors,” said Barry Gilway, CEO of Citizens Property Insurance. “It’s staggering. These companies can’t survive if you can’t shut down this ridiculous litigation. It’s not all fraud, but the vast majority is fraud.”

Fraud is a strong allegation, with some alleging that adjusters and roofers are taking advantage and finding reasons to get insurances companies to foot the bills for new roofs, even when unnecessary.

If and when those companies don’t pay, lawsuits are filed.

The governor’s proclamation that set the dates for next month’s special session mentioned “frivolous” lawsuits in the first line.

The full proclamation can be read at the bottom of this story.

Anthony Lopez is the Miami attorney who filed the most insurance cases in the state so far this year.

“It upsets me when insurance companies try to point the fingers at lawyers who represent people every day,” said Lopez.

He insists all cases he takes on are evaluated and valid, and he points the finger right back at the companies, including Citizens Property Insurance.

“They want to charge everyone as much money as possible, whether for aa brand new roof, impact windows, etc.,” Lopez said. “And then when you make a claim when you have damage to house, they don’t want to pay.”

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."