A report released by Citizens Property Insurance stated that the insurer spent a little more than $100 million in legal fees over the past two years. It blames the high legal bills on a handful of aggressive Miami-Dade County law firms. According to Citizens the county “accounts for 33 percent of all reported claims and 60 percent of all litigated claims statewide.”
About ten law firms are “responsible for 50 percent of the lawsuits against the company and 60 percent o f those suits come from Miami-Dade.” Barry Gilway, CEO of Citizens, said, “Claims are increasing because Citizens is a target.”
Citizens released the report to rebut claims made by legislators and lawmakers who “accused the company of using delay tactics as its principal legal strategy in an effort to make the state-run insurer appear to be more profitable.”
Some lawyers suggest Florida policyholders are “paying millions in unnecessary legal expenses because of Citizens’ practice of refusing to pay many claims without a lawsuit.” Ted Corless, a Tampa attorney who recently won a $15 million judgment against Citizens, said, “If they get claims that are owed, pay them, you won’t be a target.”
The report found that Citizens spent “$64 million in defense fees in 2012 and has already spent $46 million on defense lawyers and fees this year.” The report failed to mention how much Citizens would have saved had it paid its claims rather than waiting to be sued.