Nixed provision gave Florida homeowners options

Frank Evans, a public adjuster, said the attorney fees provision required insurance companies to cover attorney fees if the homeowner won in court.

NOCATEE, Fla. — A special Florida legislative session in December promised to help Florida’s homeowner’s insurance crisis.

But one insurance veteran says some new provisions will hurt homeowners.

Previously, if a homeowner took its insurance company to court and won – attorney’s fees were covered by the insurance company.

With that guarantee gone, public adjuster Frank Evans believes it will leave homeowners with no options.

“There’s no help for people like DeVela.” Evans said.

He’s referring to DeVela Cargin, a navy servicewoman who hired Evans to help recoup costs after a pipe burst in her home in 2021. But, under new state law, Evans says those negotiations might have never happened.

“In a situation where there’s no attorney’s fees being paid by the insurance carrier they are on their own and there’s no way that a public adjuster would be able to help them,” Evans said.

Evans is hired when a claim is denied or lowballed. If those negotiations aren’t successful a homeowner can sue know if they win, attorney fees will be covered.

But that’s no longer the case.

“A lot of attorneys are going to find themselves in a situation. Either charge a retainer or go and take a portion of whatever they recover for the homeowner which unfortunately may lead to situations where the homeowners don’t have sufficient funds to make the necessary repairs,” attorney, Robert Jameson, Esq., said.

Jameson has worked with Evans on several claims and has been successful in beating insurance companies.

That’s why he says he’ll continue to represent homeowners but wants to make sure stories like DeVela Cargin’s are being heard in Tallahassee.

“In private conversations I’ve had with legislators some of them feel they didn’t get both sides of the story,” Jameson said. “I tell stories of situations we’ve encountered and some of the work that we’ve been able to do and how we’ve been able to help out their constituents a lot of them are surprised and perhaps we need to do a better job as those that advocate for the insured of telling these stories.”

The attorney fee provision is still intact for homeowners with claims from Hurricane Nicole and Ian.

First Coast News has reached out to Florida house speaker and First Coast representative, Paul Renner, who backed the new legislation.

We have not heard back at this time.

In addition to nixing the attorney fee provision, the package of reforms also uses $1 billion in taxpayer dollars to prop up the state’s insurance industry.

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