Legislative Committees Consider Insurance Issues in Preparation for the 2021 Session
Mar 1, 2021
The Florida Legislature held committee meetings during January and February in preparation for the 2021 legislative session. The Florida Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved various bills that include provisions:
- Changing the contingency fee multiplier to the federal standard.
- Providing that notice of all claims, supplemental claims, or reopened claims under a property insurance policy must be provided to the insurer within 2 years of the date of the loss.
- Allowing an insurer to include a roof surface reimbursement schedule in the policy.
- Requiring property insurance claimants to provide a presuit notice before the filing of a lawsuit.
- Amending section 627.428, Florida Statutes, to link claimant attorney fees to the amount recovered in property insurance litigation.
- Extending the Hurricane Loss Mitigation Program until June 30, 2031.
- Making a public records exemption for certain proprietary business information submitted to the OIR permanent. The information includes enterprise risk reports, ORSA reports, and the corporate governance annual disclosure.
- Repealing Florida’s “No-Fault” automobile insurance law and creating financial responsibility requirements for bodily injury or death of one person in any one crash of $25,000, and $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people. The bill requires insurers to offer “MedPay” coverage to cover medical expenses of the insured. The bill also creates “best practice” standards for insurers relating to automobile claims, requires a claimant to serve a demand for settlement prior to filing a third-party bad faith action, and creates a “safe harbor” from bad faith liability under certain conditions.
- Adopting provisions of the NAIC Credit for Reinsurance Model Law for Florida.
The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee and the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee heard presentations by the Insurance Commissioner, the Department of Financial Services, and Citizens Property Insurance Company on the state of the insurance market. The committees heard that trends are showing a deteriorating property insurance market and market conditions are leading increased rates and lack of availability of insurance. The Commissioner and the CEO of Citizens said increased reinsurance costs and increased litigation are major cost drivers. Citizens is the least expensive option for consumers 90% of the time. The committees heard testimony that attorney fee reform and changes to Citizens’ rates could help stabilize the private market. The House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee also heard a presentation discussing the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.
This year’s insurance “omnibus bills,” HB 815 by Representative Gregory and SB 742 by Senator Perry were filed. The bills contain provisions relating to service of AOB notices, loss run statements, service of process on DFS, and other issues. The bills are identical and will likely be considered by committees during the 2021 session. Other bills containing issues of interest to the insurance industry include a “consumer protection” bill with issues relating to the DFS and the DFS agency package. Each of these bills will likely be amended as the session progresses.