Newly Passed Florida Property Insurance Reform Bill Reportedly Already in Force
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis officially signed a law reforming the property insurance and roofing contractor practices law, a move that some say was having a positive impact even before it went into effect.
DeSantis signed off on the measure during a roundtable discussion in June with sponsors and business groups in Sarasota. The measure – known as SB 76 – officially came into effect on July 1.
But, according to several roundtable participants, including Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier, some effects are already being felt.
“Already there is a lot of positive following this bill,” said Altmaier. He said insurers and reinsurers have both responded positively and he has seen private carriers starting to take out more home insurance policies across the state.
Representative Bob Rommel, who worked on the House version of the bill, also said insurance companies are already showing a willingness to invest again and enter the state since the bill was passed. law.
DeSantis said Florida is “particularly susceptible to having to respond to natural disasters and that naturally” has an impact on insurance.
He said the bill is an answer to many of the problems that he and the sponsors of the bill saw in the system.
“Many of you know that over the past few decades there have been a lot of ups and downs in the Florida property insurance market,” he said. “We saw a lot of problems. You’ve seen significant premium increases and you’ve even seen some homeowners have their policies canceled. They are thrown at the citizens. So we wanted to do something to stabilize that.
DeSantis said the state wants to encourage greater private sector participation and offer homeowners policies that are more affordable and “protect them from whatever mother nature has in store.”
“I think we were able to do it,” added the Republican governor.
Supporters hope SB 76 will begin to reduce litigation and control home insurance premiums.
Senator Jim Boyd, also owner of Boyd Insurance & Investments in Bradenton, said his policyholders have seen their rates increase by 20%, 30% and 50%. “So we had to do something,” he said.
Boyd said it might take a year to 18 months for rates to drop, but he’s confident it will happen.
At an Enterprise Florida board meeting, DeSantis said he believes the legislature has done a “pretty good job” in the insurance market, but the state is likely going to have to do it. more, according to Orlando Sentinel.
Some stakeholders agree with DeSantis that more needs to be done to cut costs and reduce litigation, citing the omission of two provisions that the insurance industry has declared essential.
The legislation, which was passed on the last day of the legislative session, includes changes to the law on one-way attorney fees of the state, eligibility and background of citizens, as well as deadline for filing complaints. It also imposes new requirements and restrictions on roofing contractors.
But two provisions that industry and experts have identified as critical to tackling cost drivers and stabilizing the market were left out of the final bill – the elimination of the state attorney’s fee multiplier and a provision allowing insurers to implement political language to mitigate roof replacement costs. The provisions were sticking points in both legislative chambers.
Florida industry groups applauded the signing of SB 76.
“When Florida only accounts for 8% of the nation’s property insurance claims but 76% of the nation’s property insurance disputes, you know there’s a problem,” said Mark Wilson, president and chief executive officer. the leadership of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Wilson said the measure “addresses some of the root causes that are rapidly increasing homeowners’ insurance rates. He specifically cited the reform of attorney fees and roof solicitation practices which he said have led to lawsuits.
“As Governor DeSantis has said before, Florida’s legal system should resolve real disputes and not be used as a game,” said William Large, president of the Florida Justice Reform Institute (FJRI), a group of lobbying for legal reform. Large also cited the reform of the lawyer’s fee formula. “FJRI believes the new lawyer’s fee formula will encourage more reasonable settlement offers by all parties and discourage unfounded claims, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact of this new approach in practice,” said Large
In its key provisions, the legislation signed by DeSantis:
Changes the eligibility, rate development and actuarially valid rate indication for Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
Replaces law on attorney’s fees one-way so that recovery of attorney’s fees and costs is conditional on obtaining a judgment for compensation in excess of the prior offer made by the insurance company.
Reduces the claim period for all claims to two years from the date of loss, with the exception of additional claims which will have an additional year.
Requires that claimants make an advance claim at least 10 days before filing a lawsuit against an insurer that includes an estimate of the claim, attorney fees and charges required, and the amount in dispute; prohibits the filing of pre-prosecution notices before the insurance company can determine coverage; and allows an insurer to require mediation or other form of alternative dispute resolution after receiving notice.
The bill also makes several changes to combat what insurers claim to be an explosion of roofing claims and litigation, including making it illegal for roofers or anyone acting on their behalf to do “prohibited advertising.” , including an electronic communication, telephone call or document that solicits a complaint. It will also be prohibited to offer anything of value to perform a roof inspection, an offer to interpret an insurance policy or to file a claim or settle the claim on behalf of the insured.
In addition, contractors are prohibited from providing repairs to an insured without a contract that includes a detailed estimate of the costs of labor and materials required to perform the repairs.
Violations could result in fines of $ 10,000.
Property in Florida