New Study Says AOB Abuse Increasing Insurance Costs in Florida

A new study released by the Insurance Information Institute confirms Florida’s assignment of benefits (AOB) crisis is costing Floridians billions of dollars in unnecessary litigation and inflated claim costs and is continuing to spread statewide.

“We estimate Florida’s auto and homeowner policyholders have paid about $2.5 billion in insurer legal costs over the past dozen years, a troubling trend driven by plaintiff’s attorneys who are abusing Florida’s current AOB system,” said James Lynch, the I.I.I.’s chief actuary. “That doesn’t count the billions more in excess claim settlements that are at the heart of the problem.”

According to the report, in Florida, abuse of AOBs has fueled an insurance crisis. Florida’s legal environment, the report adds, has encouraged vendors and their attorneys to solicit unwarranted AOBs from tens of thousands of Floridians, conduct unnecessary or unnecessarily expensive work, then file tens of thousands of lawsuits against insurance companies that deny or dispute the claims.

The I.I.I.’s report citing AOB lawsuit abuse is supported by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) which last week announced Florida as the worst “Judicial Hellhole” behind only California.

The Florida Chamber and its Consumer Protection Coalition are leading efforts to reform Florida’s “one-way attorney fee” statute that is fueling AOB abuse.

“This new report highlights the price that Florida’s hard-working families are paying because of unchecked AOB abuse and out-of-control litigation,” Edie Ousley, Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, told the Insurance Journal. “We look forward to working with Governor-elect Ron DeSantis and the new leadership in the Senate and House to pass real consumer protections and put an end to AOB abuse during the 2019 legislative session.”

 

Learn More and Take Action

  • Read the complete Insurance Information Institute report here.
  • Read the latest on the report from the Insurance Journal here.
  • Learn why ATRA ranks Florida the worstJudicial Hellhole behind California.
  • Take action! Sign the Consumer Protection Coalition petition seeking legislative action to reform AOB abuse.

 

Florida Chamber Launches New Ads Urging Senators to Put the Brakes on Higher Auto Insurance Rates

TALLAHASSEE, FL (February 26, 2018) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce today launched new multi-media ads urging senators to put the brakes on higher auto insurance rates. Caution Alert! highlights an effort to pass a new law that would require Florida drivers to pay more for auto insurance.

“If you think this legislation is good for you as a consumer, ask yourself one question: ‘Why is it billboard trial lawyers’ number one must-pass bill?’” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Florida has been named the worst “Judicial Hellhole” in the country by the American Tort Reform Association, and Florida’s legal climate is in the bottom five worst nationwide by the Institute for Legal Reform. Moreover, 70 percent of Florida voters believe trial lawyers are more interested in lining their own pockets instead of their clients’ best interest, according to the Florida Chamber’s latest statewide political poll.

Instead of raising rates, the ad encourages Florida drivers to contact their Senators and encourage them to keep coverage affordable.

Caution Alert! targets a legislative move to end the requirement that Florida drivers obtain no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. SB 150 would eliminate cost containment measures and result in consumers paying more for a new, mandatory set of coverages that escalate over time. Further, it doesn’t address lawsuit abuses that are infusing added costs into the system – at motorists’ expense.

“The Florida Chamber supports reforms that reduce fraud while also protecting drivers from higher auto coverage rates. SB 150 does neither,” Hart added.

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Senator Passidomo Discusses Lawsuit Abuse Reform on the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line

 

Survey: How Does Lawsuit Abuse Affect You?    Contact Your Legislator   Meet Mary

 

In the latest Florida Chamber of Commerce Bottom Line, Senator Kathleen Passidomo discusses the American Tort Reform Association’s recent report naming Florida as the country’s worst “Judicial Hellhole.”

“I wish I could give you some good news and say that we are on it and we’re ready to go, but I don’t see a whole lot coming out of this session for a myriad of reasons,” Passidomo said. “Tort reform has been in the forefront for a number of my colleagues and I. But, it just never made it across the finish line and I don’t think we are going to make it this year.”

 

Tell Your Lawmaker: Recent ‘Judicial Hellhole’ Ranking Deserves Our Collective Action

 

Contact Legislator   “Judicial Hellhole” Report   Legal Reform

 

Last week, the American Tort Reform Association released its “Judicial Hellhole” report and named Florida the worst “Judicial Hellhole” in the country, the first time in the 16 year history of the report.

Lawsuit abuse in Florida is an increasingly serious and expensive problem, and translates approximately into a $3,400 ‘tax’ for Florida’s families each year.

There have been five Wall Street Journal articles this year alone highlighting Florida’s lawsuit abuse problem. The national Institute for Legal Reform named Florida the fifth worst legal climate in America, and now ATRA ranks Florida at the top of their list (even worse than California).

 

Take Action: Contact Your Legislator

Contact your legislator to let them know Florida needs their leadership. Send a letter to your legislator today and tell them to lower the cost of living on families by fixing Florida’s broken lawsuit climate.

ATRA: Florida is the Country’s Worst “Judicial Hellhole”

 

Survey: How Does Lawsuit Abuse Affect You?   News Release   ATRA Report   Meet Mary

 

Florida Surpasses California to Become Worst “Judicial Hellhole”

The Sunshine State could be named the “Shady State” after a new report by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) named Florida the “nation’s worst Judicial Hellhole,” the first time in the study’s 16-year history where the state was ranked number one.

Lawsuit abuse in Florida is an increasingly serious and expensive problem, and it just keeps getting worse. On average, it translates into a $3,400 ‘tax’ for Florida’s families each year, due to increased lawsuit abuse costs.

According to ATRA, the trial bar’s aggressive practices throughout Florida, along with friendly lawmakers in positions of power in the Legislature, have made Florida a hellscape for litigation and abuse. Continued failure by the Legislature to enact serious legal reform during the 2018 session will continue Florida’s slide as a “judicial hellhole” and worsen an already crippling legal environment for businesses and residents alike.

Read the Report

For the first time in its 16-year history, the Judicial Hellholes report by ATRA named Florida the worst “judicial hellhole” in the country, surpassing California. Read the full report.

Have You Met Mary?

We invite you to Meet Mary, a concerned Floridian whose family pays too much in frivolous lawsuit taxes. Mary is paying about $3,400 a year in lawsuit abuse taxes.

In the News: “Florida Takes No. 1 Spot on ‘Judicial Hellholes’ List

Read the full Florida Politics article.

Florida Surpasses California to Become Worst ‘Judicial Hellhole’

 

New Report Says ‘High Court’s Contempt & Lawsuit Rackets’ Are to Blame

TALLAHASSEE, FL (December 5, 2017) – For the first time in its 16-year history, a new report says “enough shade has been cast on the Sunshine State to rank it as the nation’s worst Judicial Hellhole.”

The ranking announced this morning by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA), is further evidence that Florida’s legal climate is among the worst in America, the Florida Chamber of Commerce said today.

“Lawsuit abuse in Florida is an increasingly serious and expensive problem, and it just keeps getting worse. On average, it translates into a $3,400 ‘tax’ for Florida’s families each year, due to increased lawsuit abuse costs,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber.

“There have been five Wall Street Journal articles this year alone talking about Florida’s horrendous lawsuit abuse, the national Institute for Legal Reform named Florida the fifth worst state for legal climate, and now the American Tort Reform Association ranks Florida as the worst Judicial Hellhole, how much more evidence do lawmakers need to take action,” Wilson continued.

According to ATRA, the report shines its brightest spotlight on eight jurisdictions or courts that have earned reputations as Judicial Hellholes, including Florida, California, St. Louis, New York City, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Madison and Cook Counties, Illinois, and Louisiana.

From ATRA’s Executive Summary:

  • The Florida Supreme Court’s liability-expanding decisions and barely contained contempt for the lawmaking authority of legislators and the governor has repeatedly led to its inclusion in this report. And though the high court’s plaintiff-friendly majority this year shrunk from 5-2 to 4-3, a hushed discus­sion between two majority justices recently caught by an open microphone suggests that this majority is as partisan as ever and brazenly determined to influence the judicial selection process as three like-minded col­leagues face mandatory retirement in early 2019.
  • Meanwhile, an aggressive personal injury bar’s fraudulent and abusive practices in South Florida and elsewhere have also tarnished the state’s reputation. Encouragingly, at least some plaintiffs’ lawyers who’ve crossed the line are being held accountable, either with stiff court sanctions or criminal prosecutions. But with the help of some lawmakers, too many are still get­ting away with too much, and for the first time in this report’s 16-year history, enough shade has been cast on the Sunshine State to rank it as the nation’s worst Judicial Hellhole.

“At a time we’re trying to lower the cost of living on Florida families, this isn’t good news for home and auto owners and their insurance rates. At a time when we’re trying to lower the cost of doing business in Florida, including reducing workers’ comp rates, this isn’t good news,” Wilson said.

 

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida Chamber President Urges CRC to Vote Against Harmful Proposal

 

Read the Letter   Constitution Revision Commission

 

On October 17, 2017, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission met in Tallahassee and took up several public proposals. Among them was a proposal that would create a new way to sue individuals and businesses based on esthetic environmental rights (Public Proposal 700540). This proposal would contribute to Florida’s negative reputation as a “judicial hellhole” and further plummet the state’s bottom-five legal climate ranking.

In a letter urging Commissioners to vote against this shortsighted proposal, Florida Chamber President Mark Wilson wrote:

“While there have been many successes over the past century of economic growth, it is important to recognize that there have been barriers and burdens to Florida’s sustainable future. One of those has been unwieldy and often-unnecessary additions to Florida’s Constitution. Another is Florida’s bottom five legal climate. The Florida Chamber of Commerce has consistently opposed measures that create excessive burdens on businesses or establish even more unneeded legal liability of Florida’s job creators.”

 

Take Action Now

The CRC is a unique opportunity for Floridians to make changes to the state constitution and make Florida an even better place to live. Learn more about the Florida Chamber’s engagement with this once-every-20-year constitutional review by visiting www.FloridaChamber.com/CRC or emailing cemmanuel@flchamber.com.

 

Employers May Have to Deal With Spooky Rates and Monstrous Expenses

Halloween is around the corner and ghouls in the shape of inflated workers’ compensation costs are waiting to pounce on Florida’s business owners.

Earlier this year, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), the industry’s provider of workers’ compensation analysis and rates, announced that they are requesting an average 1.9 percent decrease in workers’ compensation rates, effective January 1, 2016. That’s good news.

For the Florida Chamber of Commerce, this recommendation comes at a crucial time for our state.

The Florida Supreme Court is expected to rule on several workers’ comp cases in the very near future, and depending on the outcome of those rulings, job creators could potentially see their business’ workers’ comp rates increase and legislative action could be necessary.

“Plaintiff attorney maneuvers like we’re seeing with workers’ compensation are reflective of a larger legal abuse problem in Florida,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber in a recently released opinion piece, which published in the Miami Herald. “In fact, a national survey released in recent days shows Florida’s lawsuit climate worsening – ranking at an all-time low 44 out of 50 states, the bottom 10.”

Florida’s “judicial hellhole” reputation is catching up and the results could be spooky. Seventy-five percent of companies surveyed say a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, such as where to locate or expand. Florida is open for business, but a dismal and expensive legal climate increases the cost of doing business and deters high-wage jobs creators from even considering our state.

At the Florida Chamber, we remain laser focused on ensuring workers’ comp rates are fair, and remain committed to ensuring the voices of job creators throughout Florida are heard before lawmakers and in the halls of justice. Ensuring injured workers receive quality care and due process is also a priority.

To secure Florida’s future, we must keep Florida’s workers’ comp system working.

Get Involved

Get involved with the Florida Chamber’s Keep Worker’s Comp Working Task Force. Sign up to add your voice to the effort by contacting Greg Blose at gblose@flchamber.com.