Fla. Homeowners File Suit Seeking Payments for Permit Fees

February 28, 2007

Alleging that insurers failed to pay or properly adjust claims for 200,000 policyholders in Florida by ignoring fees for rebuilding permits, a group representing homeowners has filed suits against three insurers.

The Hurricane Law Group of Boca Raton, Fla., filed lawsuits it wants certified as class actions against Allstate Floridian Insurance Co., Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and State Farm Florida Insurance Co.

According to the law group, policyholders were under-compensated for their losses because they were not reimbursed for the cost of permits they needed to rebuild and repair their roofs and structures.

“We estimate that Allstate, Citizens and State Farm have profited perhaps as much as $100 million at the expense of their Florida policyholders,” the group claims.

Paul Berger, managing attorney for the Hurricane Law Group, said the alleged insurer practice might affect policyholders beyond Florida.

“While the lawsuits were brought in Florida on behalf of Florida policyholders, we believe that Florida may be just the tip of the iceberg, and it is likely that similar non-payments were made in other states costing policyholders perhaps as much as $1 billion in lost insurance proceeds. We are currently conducting an investigation into claims practices in other states,” he said.

Berger said it is common knowledge that a building permit costing anywhere from $100 to $1,000 or more is required for roof replacement in Florida.

Allstate spokesman Adam Shores told The Associated Press he could not comment on the specific cases but did say his company is “confident” it settled its claims “appropriately.”

State Farm Florida spokesman Justin Glover told The Associated Press that complaint records would show that its customers were happy with the way their claims were settled.

Citizens declined comment.

Source: Hurricane Law Group

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