Courtesy of The Insurance Journal
Published March 7, 2021
The Florida insurance industry will be fighting for
property insurance reforms in the 60-day legislative session that kicked off
this week, but there are several other insurance-related bills to watch.
Read on for a breakdown of the bills being considered by Florida lawmakers
in the 2021 Florida Legislative Session:
Senate Bill 1066: Insurance Consumer Advocate
Authorizes the Insurance Consumer Advocate to collect certain information
from the entities issued a certificate of authority by the Office of
Insurance Regulation. Aggregate information may include information asserted
as trade secret information unless the trade secret information can be
individually taken out.
SB 514/House Bill 315: Resiliency
Establishes a Statewide Office of Resiliency with the office of the governor
that is headed by a chief resilience officer. Creates a statewide sea-level
rise task force adjunct to the Office of Resiliency, to recommend
projections of anticipated sea level rise and flooding impacts along
SB 168: Hurricane Loss Mitigation Program
Extends until June 30, 2031 the Hurricane Loss Mitigation Program,
which funds programs designed to improve the wind resistance of residences
and public hurricane shelters. The fund and its associated $10 million
appropriation from the Hurricane Catastrophe Fund are currently set to
expire on June 30, 2021.
HB 237: Demand Letters for Personal Injury Protection Benefits
Requires written notice of intent to initiate litigation for relief related
to personal injury protection benefits; revises requirements for demand
letter for personal injury protection benefits; prohibits actions and
prosecutions on behalf of claimants unless certain requirements are met.
SB 76/HB 305: Residential Property
Uses a lodestar fee (billable hours x reasonable hourly rate) for awarding
attorney fees except in “rare and exceptional” circumstances. The bill would
also allow an insurer to offer homeowners insurance policies that adjust
claims on roofs 10 years or older on the basis of a roof surface
reimbursement schedule. Requires notice of intent to initiate litigation and
make a presuit demand. Authorizes an insurer to request to inspect,
photograph, or evaluate certain property.
HB 305 would not add the claimant’s requirement to provide notice of intent
to initiate litigation proposed.
SB 212: Contingency Risk Multipliers
Provides that for certain attorney fees awarded for claims arising under
property insurance policies, a strong presumption is created that a lodestar
fee is sufficient and reasonable and except only under certain
circumstances, specifically “in a rare and exceptional circumstance with
evidence that competent counsel could not be retained in a reasonable
SB 630: Community Associations
Revises the regulation and governance of condominium, cooperative and
homeowners associations. Prohibits a unit owner’s insurance policy from
including rights of subrogation against the association if the association’s
policy does not provide subrogation rights against the unit owner. This bill
is backed by the Florida Association of Insurance Agents.
SB 686: Offers of Judgment
Revises and expands the statute that governs settlement offers in civil
litigation. Authorizes parties to serve offers of judgment that make certain
stipulations relating to attorney fees and costs. The bill permits a party
to make an offer of judgment that compensates someone solely for their harm
or loss. It does not include an offer to compensate for awarding attorney
fees and costs. Requires a party served with a settlement offer to notify
the party making the offer, within 30 days, of any grounds for challenging
the validity of the offer.
HB 717/SB 1598: Consumer Protection
Prohibits unlicensed activity by adjusting firms and prohibits someone from
providing claims adjusting services unless they meet specified
requirements.Prohibits licensed contractors and subcontractors from engaging
in certain activities unless licensed and compliant as public adjusters;
provides disclosure requirement that insurance coverage must meet before
being eligible for export under Surplus Lines Law; prohibits foreign venue
clauses in property insurance policies.
SB 7014: Office of Insurance Regulation
Adds the Office of Insurance Consumer Advocate to the list of entities to
which the Office of Insurance Regulation may disclose confidential and
exempt information. Would also remove the scheduled repeal of an exemption
from public records requirements for certain proprietary business
information and information that is confidential and held by the Office of
Insurance Regulation, including reports submitted by insurers, and others.
SB 728: Credit for Reinsurance
Provides insurers with credit for reinsurance from the Commissioner of
Insurance to the Office of Insurance Regulation and eliminates additional
collateral requirements for reinsurers if the reinsurer is domiciled in a
“reciprocal jurisdiction” and meets requirements set forth in the bill. The
requirements include but are not limited to: Minimum capital and surplus
requirements; minimum solvency or capital ratios; annual confirmation from
the domiciliary supervisory authority stating that the reinsurer meets the
capital, surplus, and minimum solvency or capital ratio requirements; and
prompt claims payment practices. Sets definitions for reciprocal
jurisdiction. Transfers specific authority and duties related to credit for
reinsurance from the commissioner of insurance to the Florida Office of
Insurance Regulation. Specifies requirements for assuming insurers and
reinsurance agreements and authorizes a ceding insurer or its representative
that is subject to rehabilitation, liquidation or conservation to seek a
certain court order.
SB 742/HB 815: Omnibus Bill
Redefines the term “covered policy” under the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe
Fund in relation to certain collateral protection insurance policies.
Specifies when service of process is valid and binding upon insurers.
Specifies which entities must receive requests for loss run statements.
Authorizes rather than requires rate filings for certain residential
property insurance to include certain rate factors. Also authorizes insurers
to file insurance rating plans based on windstorm mitigation construction
standards and authorizes insurers to require policyholders to provide
evidence of compliance with mitigation standards under certain conditions.
Additionally, authorizes use of specified modeling indications for rate
filings for residential property insurance; provides additional factors to
be used in determination and fixing of rates for workers’ compensation and
employer’s liability insurance; authorizes residential property insurers to
file rating plans that provide certain windstorm mitigation premium
discounts, credits and rate differentials; authorizes surplus lines agents
to export flood coverage contracts or endorsements to surplus lines insurers
without making certain diligent efforts; redefines the term “assignment
agreement” to include scopes of service & property inspection.
SB 1408/HB 1209: Department of Financial Services
Makes it a felony crime for a person to knowingly aid and abet the
unlicensed transaction of insurance; and clarifies current Florida law to
designate the Division of Public Assistance Fraud (PAF) as a criminal
justice agency to bolster fraud fighting efforts. Also, revises continuing
education requirements for certain persons licensed to solicit, sell, or
adjust insurance. Amends requiring submissions of renewal appointments of
certain insurance representatives within a certain timeframe; requires the
department to notify certain insurers or employers regarding inadvertent
failures to appoint; requires insurers and employers to pay certain fees and
taxes within a certain timeframe. Requires the department to suspend an
insurer’s or employer’s authority to appoint licensees under certain
circumstances. Deletes requirement for agents to advise insureds that
certain coverage may be available for personal residential property risks to
be eligible for export under the Surplus Lines Law. Provides an exemption
from a diligent effort requirement for surplus lines agents exporting
contracts or endorsements providing flood coverage.
SB 906: Motor Vehicle Glass
Prohibits motor vehicle repair shops and their employees from offering
anything of value to a customer in exchange for making an insurance claim
for motor vehicle glass replacement or repair, including offers made through
certain persons. Also provides requirements that must be met for an
assignment agreement to be valid; requires an assignee to hold harmless an
assignor when certain requirements aren’t satisfied; requires that an
assignment agreement be provided to an insurer at a specified time; requires
insurers to respond to a notice within a specified timeframe; requiring
insurers to have certain procedures relating to disputes.
SB 54/HB 719: Motor Vehicle Insurance
Repeals provisions that comprise the Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law;
revises the motor vehicle insurance coverages that an applicant must show to
register certain vehicles with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor
Vehicles; provides alternative minimum liability insurance coverage
requirements for certain motor vehicle owners or operators; revising
financial responsibility requirements for owners or lessees of for-hire
passenger transportation vehicles; prohibits certain practices by motor
vehicle repair shops or motor vehicle glass repair facilities with respect
to the replacement or repair of motor vehicle windshields.
SB 1230/HB 1039: Insurance
Requires the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to
establish the Uninsured Vehicle Enforcement Program. The department, in
coordination with the Department of Transportation, will install and operate
automatic license plate reader systems on infrastructure and would be
responsible for developing and maintaining a system for matching a vehicle
identified by an automatic license plate reader system with insurance data
held by the department for registered vehicles. Prohibits data collected or
retained from being used for purposes other than traffic safety & traffic
monitoring; prohibits law enforcement agencies & certain other agencies from
selling license plate data or sharing such data.
SB 1574: Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
Revises the method for determining the amounts of potential surcharges to be
levied against policyholders under certain circumstances. Also, specifies a
limit for agent commission rates and provides that eligible surplus lines
insurers may participate, in the same manner and on the same terms as an
authorized insurer, in depopulation, take-out, or keep-out programs.
Authorizes information from underwriting files and confidential claims files
to be released by the corporation to specified entities considering writing
or underwriting risks insured by the corporation under certain
COVID-19 Liability Protections
SB 72/HB 7: Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19
Provides requirements for civil action based on COVID-19 related claim.
Offers general liability protection for businesses schools, nonprofits and
religious institutions that make a good-faith effort to follow established
federal, state and local guidelines. Liability protections would apply
retroactively to any newly filed lawsuit.
SB 74: COVID-19-Related Claims Against Health Care Providers
Provides preliminary procedures for civil actions based on COVID-19-related
claims; provides the standard of proof required at trial for such claims and
provides immunity from liability for COVID-19-related claims under certain
circumstances. Require COVID-19-related claims to be filed within a