Florida House Civil Justice and Property Rights Subcommittee Approves Property Insurance Bill

Apr 7, 2021

On Tuesday, April 6, 2021, the Florida House Civil Justice and Property Rights Subcommittee approved HB 305 by Representative Bob Rommel (R-Naples) without any amendments. The subcommittee defeated amendments that would require insurers to pay the costs of appraisals if the insureds prevail in the appraisal and that would remove the provisions of the bill increasing the cap on rate increases for Citizens Property Insurance Corporation policyholders. The bill was approved on an 11-7 vote. After today’s vote, the bill is available for consideration by the House Commerce Committee.

Representative Geraldine Thompson (D-Windermere) offered an amendment to require insurers to pay all fees and costs incurred by the claimant for services provided by appraisers, umpires, and experts if the umpire awards the claimant more than the insurer’s most recent highest offer, or more than the insurer’s last payment of the undisputed claim amount. The amendment was defeated by a voice vote.

The bill contains a provision increasing the cap on Citizens premium increases for individual policies to 15% by 2026. Representative Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) offered an amendment to retain current law and cap Citizens premium increases at 10%. The subcommittee defeated the amendment on an 11-7 vote.

As the bill stands, HB 305:

  • Requires that claims, supplemental claims, and reopened claims be filed within two years after the date of loss.
  • Requires claimants to provide presuit notice in property insurance cases and gives insurers the opportunity to respond by making settlement offers or resolving the case by appraisal or other means of alternative dispute resolution.
  • Provides that the OIR may examine affiliates of insurers and requires affiliates to provide documents to the OIR as required for examinations or investigations.
  • Requires insurers that pay fees to affiliates to report any information requested to the OIR.
  • Requires insurers to make quarterly reports to the OIR with information on individual property insurance claims. Information required to be reported includes the total indemnity paid, the amount paid for claimant attorney fees, the total loss adjustment expenses, and the county and zip code of the claim.
  • Applies section 626.7451, Florida Statutes, contract provisions to managing general agents who are controlled or controlling persons.
  • Provides that a managing general agent can be examined as if it is the insurer.
  • Provides that Citizens coverage is not available if the homeowner can obtain coverage from private insurers that is less than 20 percent greater than the premium for comparable coverage from Citizens.
  • Requires that Citizens include the cost of reinsurance to cover its projected 100-year probable maximum loss even if it does not purchase the reinsurance.
  • Increases the cap on Citizens rate increases for individual policies to 15% by 2026.
  • Limits salaries of high-paid Citizens employees.
  • Prohibits contractors and public adjusters from offering to a residential property owner a rebate, gift card, cash, or any other thing of value in exchange for allowing the contractor to inspect the property owner’s roof or for making an insurance claim for damage to the property owner’s roof.

The bill is available for consideration by the House Commerce Committee. The Commerce Committee will likely meet during the seventh and eighth weeks of the session. The Senate companion bill is available for a vote by the full Senate during tomorrow’s Senate session.