Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Published March 29, 2007
A month after Gov. Charlie Crist signed a hurricane insurance law aimed at
lowering homeowner rates, the Florida House on Wednesday voted to amend it
so insurance companies can take longer to pay some claims.
At the urging of insurance industry lobbyists, the Republican-led House
tentatively approved House Bill 7077, which would remove condominium
associations and businesses from a provision of the law that requires
insurers to pay or deny claims within three months.
That "90-day prompt pay" rule was written into the insurance law
in January by legislators who heard from constituents who battled with
insurers after their houses, condos and businesses were destroyed or
damaged by the dozen hurricanes and tropical storms that raked Florida in
The change to the law would allow insurance companies more than 90 days to
settle or reject the claims of any Florida resident or business owner who
purchased property insurance through a condo association. The prompt-pay
rule would remain in force for owners of single-family dwellings and condo
residents who purchased coverage independently.
Several lawmakers, mostly Democrats, attacked the changes as a severe
weakening of a pro-consumer law.
"This is not a light or minor or procedural vote," Rep. Jack
Seiler, D-Wilton Manors said. "This is a substantive vote that says
we listened to the consumers in January, and now it's March, as all we're
going to do is listen to big [insurance] companies, and that's not what we
should be doing."
Democrats complained the legislation would bar people from suing companies
that don't meet the 90-day rule, leaving them to instead pursue remedies
through state regulatory agencies, which the critics said is a more
A final vote by the House on the measure could come as early as today.
Similar legislation is being considered in the Senate. Crist, who signed
the original law Feb. 27, has yet to make his views known on the bill.
William Stander, assistant vice president and regional manager of the
Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, an industry trade
group, said the change is needed because it can be difficult for insurers
to quickly assess storm-damage claims made for businesses and large
"Adjusting and paying on a commercial claim is vastly more
complex" than a single-family residence, Stander said.