Florida Insurance Legislative Committee Update–February 4, 2014
Feb 4, 2014
The following insurance-related Florida legislative interim committee meetings took place today, February 4, 2014:
During the Florida Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance (“Committeee”) meeting, Senator Galvano initiated the discussion on Senate Bill 570 relating to Title Insurance. The bill codifies the economic loss rule as it applies to title insurance agents and title insurers. Senator Richter filed a courtesy amendment that changes a reporting requirement date and makes technical changes to the bill. The amendment was adopted, and the bill was voted favorably as a committee substitute.
Senator Richter presented Senate Bill 590 relating to Check Cashing Services to the Committee and referenced a strike-all amendment to the bill that gives the Florida Office of Financial Regulation the authority to penalize or suspend a license for unlawful withholding of money or fraudulent activities relating to check cashing services. The strike-all amendment was adopted and the bill was voted favorably as a committee substitute.
Senate Bill 496 relating to Warranty Associations sponsored by Senator Simpson was presented to the Committee. The bill allows for the electronic transmission of home warranties and service agreements. The bill was found favorable by the Committee.
Senator Simpson presented Senate Bill 416, relating to a managed repair program for sinkhole claims within Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (“Citizens”). Senator Detert filed a strike-all amendment to the bill that establishes a program for sinkhole repairs managed by Citizens and mandates prior evaluation by Citizens for the selection of contractors that are eligible to participate in the repair program. Through this program, the repair work will be warranted by the contractor or Citizens.
Senator Simmons filed an amendment to the amendment that allows consumers to rely on arbitration or judicial oversight as a last resort, rather than relying on a neutral evaluator. There was no objection or debate by the Committee and the amendment to the amendment was adopted.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida supported the bill as amended. The bill was found favorably as a committee substitute.
The Committee then heard testimony regarding depopulating coastal commercial risks from Citizens. Michael Lyons of Weston Insurance Company gave an overview of Citizens’ Commercial Residential Market programs and those in the private market. Weston Insurance Company has a meaningful presence in the market primarily due to Citizens takeouts. Mr. Lyons expressed his belief that it would be appropriate for Citizens to adjust based off the availability in the market.
Florida House of Representatives
The Florida House of Representatives’ Insurance and Banking Subcommittee (“Subcommittee”) also met today.
House Bill 151 relating to the Security of Protected Consumers’ Information was presented to the Subcommittee by State Representative Fitzenhagen. The bill permits a representative of protected consumer to place a security freeze on protected consumers’ consumer report or record. The bill was found favorably by the Subcommittee.
Representative Gaetz presented House Bill 255 relating to Insurance Discriminatory Practices and Firearm Ownership or Possession to the Subcommittee. There was a strike-all amendment that was adopted. The bill prohibits insurance companies from refusing to insure gun owners or from charging them unfair and discriminatory rates.
During discussion, Representative Rader asked if insurance agents are allowed to ask if an insured owns a gun and if this was currently a problem in the state of Florida. The bill sponsor explained that an insurance agent is permitted to ask an insured if he or she owns a gun. Represenative Gaetz also explained that the bill is for preventative purposes so insurance companies will not have the ability to charge unfair and discriminatory rates simply because a policyholder owns a gun. The bill was adopted as amended and found favorably by the Subcommittee.
Represenative Goodson presented House Bill 401 relating to the Underwriting, Cancellation Period, and Other a Terms of Motor Vehicle Insurance Policies to the Subcommittee. The bill revises requirements for insurance underwriting and the coverage of motor vehicle insurance policies. There was no debate and the bill was recorded favorably.
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