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Linda Stewart

State Sen. Linda Stewart said that some attorneys and glass vendors have churned out unneeded litigation. | Facebook

Auto-glass bill aims to put the brakes on excessive car insurance litigation

By Michael Carroll - Mar 6, 2023

Supporters of an auto-glass lawsuit bill introduced last week say the reform would shatter current incentives that allow repair shops and attorneys to file excessive claims litigation, driving up the cost of auto insurance.

State Sen. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) filed her auto-glass bill on Feb. 21, while in the House of Representatives, Rep. Phillip “Griff” Griffitts (R-Panama Beach) introduced a version of the reform aimed at ending unnecessary litigation over windshield repairs.

Both bills would ban vendors from accepting an assignment of insurance benefits for auto glass claims, while Stewart’s SB 1002 would bar repair shops from offering potential auto glass customers anything of value, such as a gift card or cash, in exchange for making an insurance claim for the replacement of auto glass. SB 1002 would also mandate that consumers be fully informed about information relating to calibrating or recalibrating advanced electronic safety systems – a process that is required on windshield repairs of many late-model cars.

Windshield or auto glass lawsuits have ballooned in Florida in recent years, going from 591 litigated claims in 2011 to more than 37,000 lawsuits last year, according to reform supporters.

“We have all seen the signs offering us cash or gift cards to have our windshields replaced,” Stewart said in a prepared statement. “These incentives sound great, but the reality is some of these services are using you to sue your insurance for more money than the replacement actually costs. This behavior ultimately contributes to the ever-increasing auto insurance rates as insurers raise rates to compensate for their losses from this practice.”

William Large, president of the Florida Tort Reform Institute, said the auto-glass bills dovetail with a broader effort this year to pass a far-reaching tort reform plan, House Bill 837.

“"Gov. (Ron) DeSantis called for legislation to create a more predictable, stable legal environment, and HB 837, HB 541 and SB 1002 will do just that,” Large said in a statement emailed to the Florida Record. “The Florida Justice Reform Institute commends Gov. DeSantis, Senate President (Kathleen) Passidomo and House Speaker (Paul) Renner, and the bill sponsors … for their leadership on the most consequential civil litigation reforms in a generation.”

The actions of 20 Florida attorneys make up 95% of the state’s auto-glass lawsuits, according to data from the Florida Department of Financial Services. A small group of repair shops is also involved in the claims litigation, reform supporters say.