Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate’s Homeowners’ Policy and Claims Bill of Rights Working Group Reviews Draft Recommendations

Jul 30, 2013


The Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate’s Homeowners’ Policy and Claims Bill of Rights Working Group (“Working Group”) met via teleconference to review draft recommendations on insurance claims handling processes and other related concerns today, July 30, 2013.  

The recommendations, a copy of which can be viewed by clicking here, were based on feedback received during Working Group meetings held for two consecutive days earlier this month.

Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott opened the meeting, noting that the recommendation list is not yet complete, since the issues raised have not yet been finalized.  Some may be revised or removed based on the Working Group’s discussions, she explained. 

Since today’s conference call was limited to an hour an a half, several issues were not addressed, such as assignment of benefits.

The first recommendation discussed would require the licensure or registration of water damage remediation companies–a proposal supported by the Working Group.  For remediation services, a “cooling off” period was not suggested because consumers have a duty to mitigate damage, it was explained.

In regard to all other non-remediation claims, there was significant discussion on whether to include a 72-hour “cooling off” or “right of recession” standard for contractual services.   Contractors participating with the Working Group on today’s the call expressed concern with this provision, while insurers in attendance supported it.  Ultimately, it appeared a majority of the Working Group agreed with the “cooling off” proposal.

Insofar as emergency remediation, the Working Group supported the addition of a provision that would require having an estimate of pricing and scope of service prior to the commencement of services being performed.   Further, any revisions to an initial estimate should be approved by the policyholder, it was suggested. 

Insurer representatives participating in the Working Group expressed concerns with the concept of presumption of valid estimate, and that the repairs made are payable within the first 36 hours of the damage if a company claims adjuster does not inspect and provide an estimate within 36 hours.  It was felt that this provision should apply to non-catastrophe claims only. 

Ms. Westcott stated she would consider removing the 36-hour requirement, but added that she felt there should be some insurer responsibility to respond to a claim in a timely manner.   She also said she was concerned about a 48-hour response requirement by an insurer once a policyholder provides notice of a claim.  Her suggestion was to remove the 48-hour rule and presume validity of a claim if the insurer does not inspect the loss in a timely manner.    It was resolved that this issue will be revised and resubmitted to the Working Group.

The Working Group will once again review and further revise a requirement that a permit must be obtained for all repairs.  As currently drafted, the bullet point on this topic is too broad, it was thought.

Ms. Westcott concluded the call, noting that the remainder of the agenda will by discussed at the next scheduled meeting on August 12, 2013, but that another conference call could be organized prior to that meeting to ensure that all agenda items are being adequately addressed. 

In the meantime, interested parties are encouraged to submit additional written comments to Katie Webb (kwebb@cftlaw.com) at Colodny Fass& Webb


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