ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — One month after state lawmakers were summoned back to Tallahassee to fix Florida’s broken homeowner’s insurance industry, the crisis continues.
“As we sit here today, we are just under 19,000, but quickly approaching 19,000 lawsuits,” said Elaina Paskalakis of Citizen’s Property Insurance, during a claims committee meeting earlier this month.
Citizens, the sate-backed insurer of last resort isn’t just facing mounting litigation, it is also absorbing some 12,000 policies a month.
“Last year at this time they (Citizens) were growing at about 5,000 policies a week, so they are growing exponentially more,” says State Senator Jeff Brandes (R-Pinellas). “They have about $6 billion in cash and about $300 billion in potential liability if they have a big storm.”
With police and lawsuits piling up, Citizens recently approved $50 million for litigation costs, with the state-backed insurer set to approve another $50 million when it meets again in July.
“It is all hands on deck at Citizens, and frankly I don’t know how they are going to manage all this, we would never let a private insurance company grow as fast as citizens is growing right now,” says Brandes.
The growing number of policies and lawsuits involving Citizens underscores just how volatile Florida’s homeowner’s insurance market remains, even after May’s emergency special session, when lawmakers passed a host of measures meant to stabilize the industry.
While Florida’s perilous position is bad right now, lawmakers and board members agree, it could get much worse if a hurricane makes landfall this season. Florida has not had to deal with a major hurricane since 2018, yet lawsuits have increased and almost a dozen private insurance carriers have gone into liquidation. This will accelerate if a storm hits.
“Let’s just pray that there is no storm this year because Citizens has to manage what could be a million policies by the end of the year, and I don’t know how they are going to do it,” says Brandes.
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