Florida Supreme Court weighs whether to give Citizens Property Insurance legal immunity
Sep 8, 2011
The following article was posted to the Channel 13 News website on September 8, 2011:
Fla. Supreme Court weighs whether to give Citizens Insurance legal immunity
By Troy Kinsey
Florida’s Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday about granting Citizens Insurance legal immunity.
The court heard the debate between coastal property owners and the state’s insurer of last resort.
Those policy holders say their claims were denied or delayed and want to sue Citizens for bad faith practices.
Kevin Cate with the group ‘Policyholders of Florida’ is outraged.
“If it walks like an insurance company, talks like an insurance company, and it’s the insurance company of last resort for most people, it needs to live up to the responsibilities – the promises – it made to those homeowners,” Cate said.
Because Citizens has taken on overwhelming risk, legislators have made it clear it can’t waste its money fighting lawsuits. That’s why the company’s attorney says once a claim’s rejected, the case ought to be closed.
“The Legislature went to extraordinary lengths to protect those funds, which are just paid by all of the policyholders in the state of Florida,” said Barry Richard, attorney for Citizens. “And part of the way they did that is they said, ‘we are not going to allow it to be used to pay for litigation.'”
The Supreme Court is expected to issue its opinion on the case in the next few weeks.
Because Citizens is Florida’s largest insurer, the outcome could affect countless policyholders.