The Florida insurance industry will be fighting for property insurance reforms in the 60-day legislative session that started this week, but there are several other insurance-related bills to watch.
Continue reading for an analysis of the bills being considered by Florida lawmakers at the Florida Legislative 2021 session:
Authorizes the Insurance Consumer Defender to collect certain information from entities issued by a certificate of authority by the Insurance Regulation Office. Aggregate information may include information declared as trade secret information, unless trade secret information can be obtained individually.
Establishes a State Resilience Office with the governor’s office, which is chaired by a resilience director. Creates a statewide sea level task force to adhere to the Office of Resilience to recommend projections of sea level rise and flood impacts along the coast.
The Hurricane Loss Mitigation Program extends until June 30, 2031, which finances programs aimed at improving the wind resistance of homes and public shelters against hurricanes. The fund and its associated $ 10 million allocation from the Hurricane Catastrophe Fund are currently set to expire on June 30, 2021.
Requires written notification of intention to initiate litigation to obtain relief related to personal injury protection benefits; reviews the requirements for demand letter for personal injury protection benefits; prohibits actions and processes on behalf of the claimants, unless certain requirements are met.
Uses a star fee (billable hours x reasonable hourly rate) to award attorney’s fees, except in “rare and exceptional” circumstances. The bill also allows an insurer to offer homeowners insurance policies to adjust roof claims for 10 years or more based on a roof surface reimbursement schedule. Requires notification of intent to initiate a dispute and make a predefined demand. Authorizes an insurer to request inspection, photography or evaluation of a particular property.
HB 305 would not add to the complainant’s requirement to provide a notice of intention to initiate the proposed litigation.
It establishes that, for certain attorneys’ fees granted for claims arising out of property insurance policies, a strong presumption is created that a guiding star fee is sufficient and reasonable and except only in certain circumstances, specifically “in a rare and exceptional circumstance with evidence that a competent lawyer could not be reasonably detained. ”
It reviews the regulations and governance of condominium associations, cooperatives and property owners. Prohibits the unit owner’s insurance policy from including subrogation rights against the association if the association’s policy does not provide subrogation rights against the unit owner. This bill is supported by the Florida Association of Insurance Agents.
It reviews and expands the statute that governs the offer of agreements in civil litigation. It authorizes the parties to submit offers of judgment that make certain stipulations related to attorney’s fees and costs. The bill allows a party to make an offer of judgment that indemnifies someone only for their damage or loss. It does not include an offer to offset attorney’s fees and costs. Requires that a party served with a settlement offer notifies the party that made the offer, within 30 days, of any reasons to contest the validity of the offer.
It prohibits unlicensed activities by adjusting firms and prohibits someone from providing claims adjustment services unless they meet specified requirements. Prohibits licensed contractors and subcontractors from engaging in certain activities, unless they are licensed and compatible as public regulators; provides the disclosure requirement that the insurance coverage must meet before being eligible for export under the Surplus Lines Act; prohibits foreign clauses in property insurance policies.
Adds the Insurance Consumer Law Office to the list of entities to which the Insurance Regulation Office can disclose confidential and exempt information. It would also remove the scheduled revocation of an exemption from public record requirements for certain proprietary business information and information that is confidential and maintained by the Insurance Regulation Office, including reports submitted by insurers and others.
It provides insurers with reinsurance credit from the Insurance Commissioner to the Insurance Regulatory Office and eliminates additional guarantee requirements for reinsurers if the reinsurer is domiciled in a “reciprocal jurisdiction” and meets the requirements set out in the invoice. The requirements include, but are not limited to: Minimum and excess capital requirements; minimum solvency or capital ratios; annual confirmation from the home supervisory authority stating that the reinsurer meets the requirements for capital, surplus and minimum solvency or capital ratio; and immediate claims payment practices. Defines definitions for reciprocal jurisdiction. Transfers specific authority and duties related to the insurance commissioner’s reinsurance credit to the Florida Insurance Regulatory Office. It specifies the requirements for taking on insurers and reinsurance agreements and authorizes a transferor insurer or its representative subject to rehabilitation, liquidation or conservation to seek a specific court order.
Redefines the term “covered policy” of the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund in relation to certain warranty protection insurance policies. Specifies when the process service is valid and binding on insurers. Specifies which entities should receive claims for loss enforcement claims. It authorizes, instead of requiring, that the fee records for certain homeowners’ insurance include certain fee factors. It also authorizes insurers to submit insurance classification plans based on wind storm mitigation construction standards and authorizes insurers to require policyholders to provide evidence of compliance with mitigation standards under certain conditions.
In addition, it authorizes the use of specified modeling indications for home property insurance rate registrations; provides additional factors to be used in determining and fixing workers’ compensation rates and employer liability insurance; authorizes residential property insurers to present rating plans that provide certain discounts, credits and wind storm mitigation fee differentials; authorizes surplus line agents to export flood coverage contracts or endorsements to surplus line insurers without making certain diligent efforts; redefines the term “assignment contract” to include scope of service and property inspection.
It makes it a criminal offense for a person to consciously assist and encourage the unlicensed insurance transaction; and clarifies current Florida law to designate the Public Assistance Fraud Division (PAF) as a criminal justice agency to support efforts to combat fraud. In addition, it reviews continuing education requirements for certain licensed persons to request, sell or adjust insurance. Amendments requiring the submission of renewal appointments by certain insurance representatives within a specified period; requires the department to notify certain insurers or employers of inadvertent naming failures; requires insurers and employers to pay certain fees and taxes within a specified period. It requires the department to suspend the authority of an insurer or employer to appoint licensees under certain circumstances. Eliminates the requirement that agents notify policyholders that certain coverages may be available for personal home property risks to be eligible for export under the Surplus Lines Act. Provides an exemption from a diligent effort requirement for surplus line agents exporting contracts or endorsements that provide flood coverage.
It prohibits motor vehicle repair shops and their employees from offering anything of value to a customer in exchange for an insurance claim for replacement or repair of automotive glass, including offers made through certain people. It also provides requirements that must be met for a assignment contract to be valid; requires a transferee to exempt a transferor when certain requirements are not met; requires that an assignment contract be provided to an insurer at a specific time; requires insurers to respond to a notice within a specified period; requiring insurers to have certain procedures regarding disputes.
Repeals the provisions that make up the Florida Motor Vehicle Non-Fault Act; reviews motor vehicle insurance coverage that an applicant must show in order to register certain vehicles with the Department of Road Safety and Motor Vehicles; provides alternative minimum liability insurance coverage requirements for certain motor vehicle owners or operators; review of financial liability requirements for owners or renters of hired passenger vehicles; prohibits certain motor vehicle repair or motor vehicle glass repair practices in connection with the replacement or repair of motor vehicle windshields.
Requires the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to establish the Uninsured Vehicle Inspection Program. The department, in coordination with the Department of Transport, will install and operate automatic plate reading systems in the infrastructure and will be responsible for developing and maintaining a vehicle matching system identified by an automatic plate reader system with maintained insurance data. by the registered vehicles department. Prohibits data collected or retained from being used for purposes other than traffic safety and traffic monitoring; prohibits law enforcement agencies and other agencies from selling license plate data or sharing such data.
It reviews the method for determining the amounts of potential surcharges to be charged to policyholders in certain circumstances. In addition, it specifies a limit on agent commission fees and establishes that eligible surplus line insurers can participate, in the same way and on the same terms as an authorized insurer, in depopulation, withdrawal or maintenance programs. Authorizes information from subscription files and confidential claim files to be released by the corporation to specific entities, considering writing or underwriting risks insured by the corporation under certain circumstances.
COVID-19 liability protections
Provides requirements for civil action based on the claim related to COVID-19. Provides general liability protection for business schools, non-profit organizations and religious institutions that make a good faith effort to follow established federal, state and local guidelines. The liability protections would apply retroactively to any newly opened lawsuit.
Provides preliminary procedures for civil actions based on claims related to COVID-19; provides the standard of proof required at trial for such claims and provides immunity from liability for claims related to COVID-19 under certain circumstances. Require that claims related to COVID-19 be submitted within a specified time.