In the wake of Hurricane Ian and the resulting collapse of numerous insurance companies, including United Property and Casualty Insurance Co. (“UPC”) in February 2023, we've seen FIGA begin to deploy the same bullying and delay tactics as UPC did when it was wrongfully adjusting claims. Recently, FIGA has been making lowball offers, refusing to pay undisputed amounts determined by their own estimators, and utilizing the automatic stay, triggered when an insurance company goes bankrupt, as an aggressive delay tactic. We want policyholders to know this conduct violates FIGA's statutory obligation as FIGA is “deemed the insurer to the extent of its obligation on the covered claims” per Fla. Stat. § 631.57(1)(b).
Meaning, you are not required to take a lowball, unacceptable offer from FIGA. Although the fight against FIGA may be longer because of FIGA's ability to stay (stall) claims and its increasing efforts to bully and intimidate policyholders into accepting less than they are entitled to recover on their claims, the wait and fight is usually worth the reward in the end. Before you accept any offer from FIGA, we want you to know your rights.
FIGA Has Not Been Fulfilling Its Contractual and Legal Obligations to Policyholders
We have seen FIGA take the stance recently that it is not an insurance company and it is only obligated to settle claims, not pay them in accordance with the policy or Florida law, but in accordance with its own internal guidelines and administrative goals. FIGA has come to the negotiation table with the attitude that policyholders of insolvent insurance companies are lucky to get paid anything at all. This callous treatment of policyholders—who have already suffered a delayed, often wrongfully handled claim, as well as the failure of their insurance company and further delay while FIGA steps in—is simply unacceptable and not in accordance with FIGA's obligation under the law.
You Are Not Required to Accept a Lowball Offer from FIGA
In recent cases, we have seen FIGA make incredibly lowball offers—that would in no way allow homeowners to accomplish even a fraction of the repairs necessary to restore their home—and hold firm to that number, using the automatic stay as a sword not a shield, refusing to act reasonably and in accordance with the law while the stay is in place knowing policyholders cannot pursue legal recourse against FIGA during that time. We constantly remind policyholders: you have rights. Other than the statutory cap limiting the amount FIGA must pay—nothing over $500,000 on homeowners' claims—by statute, FIGA is “deemed the insurer to the extent of its obligation” on your claim. Meaning, FIGA has to pay you in accordance with the provisions of your insurance policy and Florida law.
The Bottom Line: Don't Let FIGA Intimidate You – Your Rights Have Not Changed
While FIGA's recent conduct, in picking up where the insolvent insurance company left off by continuing with delay and bullying tactics, is frustrating and unfair, we strongly advise policyholders—if you can—do not succumb to FIGA's tactics. While no outcome is ever guaranteed, in most cases, for those policyholders who can hold out and continue to push back against FIGA or their insurance company and fight for the full amount to which they are entitled, their recovery in the end is generally far more than the lowball offer they initially thought was their only option.
Don't let FIGA intimidate you into believing its lowball offer is your last option. If you have questions about your claim against FIGA and would like some expert advice and guidance, our experienced insurance attorneys never require any fee, cost, or obligation to discuss your claim and make sure you understand your rights. Never hesitate to contact us. We have gone up against FIGA and insurance companies thousands of times. We know their playbook and their tactics, and we're here to help you fight back and pursue the amount you are entitled to recover.