Blog: Floridians for Fair Insurance announces coalition to fix ‘Bad Faith’ laws

Feb 23, 2011

The following article was posted to the St. Petersblog on February 22, 2011:

Floridians for Fair Insurance announces coalition to fix “Bad Faith” laws

Small business owners, Florida business associations, and grassroots Floridians today announced the formation of Floridians for Fair Insurance Coalition.  The Coalition, which includes Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Justice Reform Institute, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, as well as small business owners and consumer advocates, seeks to reform policies in Florida known as “bad faith” insurance laws and protect Florida’s small business owners and consumers from the threat of lawsuit abuse.

“We formed this coalition to shine a spotlight on the games that are being played in Florida, and to craft policies that will provide solutions for consumers and businesses,” said William W. Large, President of the Florida Justice Reform Institute.  “The status quo—a system that encourages the threat of lawsuits and hurts the business climate—only benefits one group, and that is the trial lawyers.”

Under Florida’s current law, in the case of an accident, an injured party might file a lawsuit against an insured business or individual—but the law also allows for a trial lawyer to then file a second lawsuit against the insurance company based on the way it handled the claim.  In fact, however, the lawyer has no interest in protecting the insured or settling for policy limits; he seeks a multi-million dollar recovery well above the limits of the insurance policy. As a result, cases that should settle quickly do not.

“Florida’s small businesses need affordable insurance, not a broken system that discourages settlements and encourages thousands of new lawsuits,” noted Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The people of Florida, our struggling business community, and state government can’t afford this system, where there are two lawsuits instead of one and cases aren’t resolved early on to protect the consumer.”

“The remedy is simple – retain the ability to sue an insurer when it truly acts in bad faith, but create objective standards and a fair process that allows a real analysis,” said Barney Bishop III, President and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida. “Floridians should demand that the Legislature hold insurers’ feet to the fire by establishing a process that provides for an offer to settle, rather than being controlled by a system dominated by games.”

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