House Committee on Insurance Report–March 20

Mar 20, 2008

On Thursday, March 20, 2008, the House Committee on Insurance met, discussed and took action on five bills relating to insurance.  Representative Don Brown (R- Defuniak Springs), Committee Chairman, provided brief introductory comments and moved directly into the bills on the agenda.  To view the meeting packet, click here.

Below is a brief summary of the bills that were considered during the meeting and the discussion and actions that ensued.

House Bill 565 by Representative Bryan Nelson (R- Apopka) relating to Insurance Representatives.

HB 565 passed with a strike-everything amendment with very little discussion or debate.  As amended, the bill exempts the educational requirement from the customer service licensing examination and amends the regulation of continuing education requirements for insurance agents.  Next, HB 565 goes to the House Jobs and Entrepreneurship Council.

House Bill 937 by Representative Kevin Ambler (R- Tampa) relating to Title Insurance.

HB 937 passed unanimously with two amendments.  The bill creates the Florida 2008 Title Insurance Study Advisory Council (“Council”) to study Florida’s title insurance laws and regulations.  The Council will be required to hold its first meeting by August 1, 2008 and will terminate after submitting its final report, no later than December 31, 2009. 

Amendment 1 by Representative Ambler designates agent representatives and Department designees to serve on the Council and specifies that the Governor is to serve as the chair of the Council. 

Amendment 2 by Representative Carl Domino (R- Juno Beach) specifies that the Governor’s designee may serve on the Council and requires the Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”) or CFO’s designee to serve on the Council. 

Steve Parton, Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (“OIR”) General Counsel, spoke in opposition to HB 937 for the reasons that it does not address the root cause of the title insurance problems in Florida and that the Council is comprised of a supermajority of industry representatives. 

The Committee members harshly criticized the OIR’s regulation of title insurance companies, citing that the OIR oversees setting Florida’s title insurance rates, which are among the highest in the country. 

Mr. Parton left the meeting before the hearing on HB 937 concluded, which also upset the Committee members inamsuch as several of their questions could not be answered by the remaining OIR officials in attendance. 

Although the bill passed the Committee unanimously, several committee members expressed concerns and stated that the bill will need tweaking before they will vote favorably for it on the Floor.  Next, the bill goes to the House Jobs and Entrepreneurship Council.

House Bill 1001 by Representative Garrett Richter (R- Naples) relating to Commercial Property Insurance.

HB 1001 passed unanimously with one technical amendment that adds clarifying language.  The bill creates a new type of commercial property insurance, which is not subject to Citizens Property Insurance Corporation assessments and is subject to limited OIR regulation.  The bill allows, but does not require an insurer the choice to offer this type of policy.  

Several business groups testified in support of the bill because it could reduce potential assessments, attract competition, and potentially lower future premiums.  Next, the bill goes to the Jobs and Entrepreneurship Council.

House Bill 1493 by Representative Shelley Vana (D- West Palm Beach) relating to Motor Vehicle and Casualty Insurance Contracts.

HB 1493 passed 6 (Y)-5 (N) with several committee members expressing serious concerns.  The bill requires insurers that intend to condition the renewal of a motor vehicle insurance policy on a change of limits, elimination of coverage, or an increase in premium to provide written notice to the policyholder and his/her named agent within 45 days of the renewal date.  Committee members were concerned because the bill does not appear to provide added benefit to an insured, and there are already notice requirements in current law.  Industry representatives noted that Florida’s automobile insurance laws and regulations have been changing very frequently and stressed the need for stability.  The bill next goes to the Jobs and Entrepreneurship Council.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Chairman Brown indicated that OIR would likely be called to testify under oath before the Committee on Monday, March 24, 2008.  The meeting would be similar to the Citizens hearing on March 14, 2008.  Monday’s meeting will likely be the last House Insurance Committee meeting for the 2008 Regular Session.

There being no further business before the Committee, the meeting adjourned. 

Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact this office. 



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