Recap of Week 6 & Preview of Week 7 of Session
Insurance and related bills continue to see steady progress in the Florida Legislature, as we enter the last three scheduled weeks of the session. The House and Senate bills regarding insurance company accountability still have significant differences (see below) with the House bill taking a more limited approach so far. Bills barring the use of Assignment of Benefits (AOB) contracts in auto glass and other related motor vehicle repair are coming together and ready for consideration by each chamber. Meanwhile, the House has now released its hurricane resiliency bill to address post-Ian concerns and future storms. It has its first formal hearing this morning and will need to be reconciled with the Senate’s already-passed version. We also have a late, new entrant to our Bill Watch: HB 785, which mandates healthcare coverage for annual skin cancer screenings (see below).
Last week saw the Florida House premier its $1.38 billion package of tax breaks for businesses and consumers, as the Senate readies its plan’s debut this week. The House plan includes the usual sales tax holidays, including those on disaster-preparedness supplies, as well as further cutting the commercial-lease tax. The Governor last week signed the state’s six-week abortion ban into law but it doesn’t take effect right away because the Florida Supreme Court needs to act on a challenge to the existing 15-week ban. The House eliminated the requirement for a unanimous jury in death penalty recommendations after the Senate passed it March 30. The Governor is expected to sign the measure, which would allow death sentences to be imposed based on the recommendations of eight of 12 jurors.
Our Bill Watch is separated into two categories – “Bills in Play” and “Bills Not in Play”. For those of you who were following closely and have a favorite that has been placed in the latter, don’t forget: It has been my experience that most good ideas take 3 years to pass!”
Here is a master list of the legislative bills we’re following so far. You can click the bill link in the list below to go directly to the bill and its details farther below. “New” and “Updated” bills are so noted. Updates within each bill are noted in blue font:
Insurer Accountability Updated
Surplus Requirements for Residential Property Insurers
Financial Services Updated
Property Insurance Updated
Motor Vehicle Liability Policies Updated
Motor Vehicle Insurance
Commercial Vehicle Insurance
Motor Vehicle Glass Updated
Civil Remedies for Unlawful Employment Practices
Litigation Financing Consumer Protection
Emergency Residential Property Insurance Assistance Trust Fund
Contacting Consumer Debtors
Home Repairs and Solicitation Sales
Collateral Protection Insurance on Real Property Updated
Natural Emergencies Updated
Causes of Action Based on Improvements to Real Property
Condominium and Cooperative Associations Updated
Flood Damage Prevention
My Safe Florida Home Program Updated
Limitation of Actions Involving Real Estate Appraisers and Appraisal Management Companies Updated
Flood Disclosures for Real Property Sales
Flood Zone Disclosures for Dwelling Units
Implementation of the Recommendations of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force Updated
Access to Pharmacies and Prescription Drugs Under Insurance and Pharmacy Benefit Managers Policies
Health Insurance Cost Sharing Updated
Coverage for Skin Cancer Screenings New
Insurance (health) Updated
Telehealth Practice Standards
Physician Certifications for the Medical Use of Marijuana
Civil Remedies ̶ SIGNED INTO LAW HB 837 and SB 236 by Reps. Tommy Gregory (R-Lakewood Ranch) and Tom Fabricio (R-Miami-Dade) and Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast), pick-up where the December 2022 special session on insurance market reforms left off, by eliminating one-way attorney fees in most lines of insurance – not just property insurance.
On Friday March 24, Governor DeSantis signed HB 837 into law, with its provisions going into effect immediately. The new law makes additional changes to state statutes to reduce excessive litigation and resulting costs to insurance consumers. As passed, the bill does the following PROSPECTIVELY from March 24, 2023 on:
- Adopts the federal standard for contingency fee multiplier in that it applies in only rare and exceptional circumstances.
- Repeals the one-way attorney fee statute (as was done for property insurance in December 2022) for admitted and surplus lines. Attorney fees will only be paid if the insurer totally denies insurance coverage and the plaintiff lawyer prepares (and wins) a declaratory judgment action (dec action) to determine coverage. Reservation of rights letters do not constitute as a claim denial. This section does NOT apply to property insurance total denial dec actions.
- General negligence cases must be filed in 2 years, down from 4 years.
- Changes Bad Faith laws:
- Applies bad faith to liability claims.
- Bad faith safe harbor is 90 days after receiving actual notice of a claim.
- Negligence singularly and failure to tender policy limits is not bad faith.
- A judge can consider failure of the policyholder/claimant to act in good faith when determining damages against the insurer.
- Interpleader process will be used with more than one claimant and when claims exceed policy limits.
- Binding arbitration is paid for by insurance company, all parties must agree to it and it is allowed with more than one claimant where policy limits are exceeded.
- Provides that an offer of judgment applies to any insurance civil action.
- Establishes uniform jury standards to transparently calculate personal injury or wrongful death medical damage costs:
- Evidence of past paid medical bills and unpaid bill data will now be a part of a court case.
- Ensures that a letter of protection is not inflated by ensuring the health insurance benefits are transparent to the jury.
- Evidence of past or future unpaid medical bills for those uninsured or on Medicaid/Medicare are subject to 120% of the Medicare rate or 170% of the Medicaid rate if no Medicare rate.
- Evidence of past medical bills if letter of protection is sold is the sales price of the letter.
- Evidence of future medical bills for insured plaintiffs is the provider health insurance rate for future care plus the plaintiff’s cost share.
- The jury can also be presented any reasonable amount for past and future medical bills.
- Ensures transparency about a provider/plaintiff counsel financial relationship to inform the jury.
- All persons who contributed to the injury in a premises liability action will now become part of the civil action. The bill establishes a presumption against liability for criminal acts of apartment complex non employees, owners or operators that occur in the complex if security measures and training is in place.
- Changes Florida’s comparative negligence system so that if a plaintiff is more at fault for their injuries, they may not recover damages from the defendant. Medical malpractice coverage/cases are not included with this change. (Return to Top of List)
Consumer Protection – HB 1185 and SB 1398 by Representative Mike Giallombardo (R-Cape Coral) by Senator Nick Diceglie (R- St. Petersburg) provides additional requirements for distributed energy systems and specifies violations and penalties for licensees. The bill prohibits certain contracts by public adjusters (PA’s) and provides an additional requirement for a public adjuster’s license. The bill revises provisions relating to hurricane deductibles and reduces the time period in which a property insurance company may cancel a policy in certain circumstances. The bill also revises duties of carriers & agents concerning the sale of annuities and provides additional requirements for service agreement policies.
HB 1185 was heard in the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee on March 21 and a clarifying amendment adopted. You can view the House Bill analysis. Scott Johnson, in his Johnson Strategies blog, notes the following highlights:
- Attorney Loss Consultants: The bill partially addresses the problem of so-called attorney “loss consultants” that perform services identical to that of a PA but without a PA license. It clarifies that the attorney adjusting exemption does not apply to “…employees, interns, volunteers, or contractors…” of any attorney or firm.
- PA’s & 3rdparties: The bill prohibits a PA from contracting with 3rd parties (such as water firms or build back contractors) unless the homeowner client provides written consent. If done without consent, the 3rd party invoice is paid out of the public adjusters’ fee.
- PA Contract Cancellations: A major problem after both Hurricanes Michael and Ian was PA’s signing up policyholders then taking weeks, sometimes months, to begin work. The CFO’s bill provides that after a declared emergency policyholders have 30 days to cancel their contracts, without penalty or obligation. The contract must state this fact and also state it can be cancelled if the PA fails to provide a copy of an “unaltered ” written estimate within 45 days of signing.
- Paying the Policy Limits: Under the bill if no later than 14 days after the loss is reported the insurance company pays, or commits in writing to pay, the policy limits, the PA must inform the policyholder that such payment might not be increased and that the PA is entitled only to reasonable compensation for time and expenses incurred.
- Contingency Fee Calculations: Under the bill if a public adjuster has a contract effective after the policyholder receives an insurance companies offer and the PA increases the insurance companies offer, the PA’s percentage is calculated on the difference between the original offer and the final payment, not the total claim payment.
- Claim Payments: When a claim is settled while the policyholder is represented by a public adjuster, the insurance company must pay via check(s) and must issue one check to the public adjuster and another for the balance made payable to the policyholder.
- Miscellaneous Policyholder Benefits: The bill changes and/or creates other requirements for PA contracts that should be helpful in expediting the claims process, lowering fraud and protecting the policyholder. (Details in the Amendment beginning in Section 9 on line 352)
HB 1185 unanimously passed out of the committee, which featured passionate testimony from CFO Jimmy Patronis on the “hell” that is recovering from a hurricane. The bill is on the agenda in its final committee stop today (April 17) at 2pm in the House Commerce Committee.
SB 1398 was heard in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on March 22 and a clarifying amendment was adopted. There was a lot of testimony from public adjusters advocating against the bill, but Senator DiCeglie noted in his closing that unfortunately there have been a lot of bad practices following catastrophic storms in Florida. He continued that the lines of communication will remain open, but ultimately this is consumer protection legislation, and they need to stay at the forefront. The bill was passed unanimously and is now on the agenda in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government tomorrow (April 18) at 12pm, its second of three committee stops. You can view the Senate Bill analysis for more details. (Return to Top of List)
Insurer Accountability ̶ SB 7052 and HB 7065 by the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee and the House Commerce Committee and Rep. Wyman Duggan (R-Duval) are intended to increase accountability and transparency of insurance companies with regulators and consumers.
The Senate bill followed the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee’s discussion on March 29 with the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR). During the meeting, Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworsky, representing OIR discussed its Property Insurance Stability Report, established by SB 76 in 2021, which was designed to be a long term tool to gather enhanced and narrow data on the Florida property insurance market and provide a line-by-line life cycle of every claim in the calendar year. The initial information in the data call shows about 50% of companies responded, which amounts to about 250,000 claims of the estimated 670,000 claims total, and about 52,535 claims will be litigated. Committee Chair Boyd asked Commissioner Yaworsky for his thoughts on a New York Post article on allegations of insurance company mishandling claims after hurricanes in Southwest Florida. Yaworsky responded that OIR expects insurance companies are acting in good faith to restore a sense of normalcy, and although he can’t go into whether OIR has begun an investigation, it is taking the matter seriously.
The bill was heard April 5 in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. Among its major provisions:
On insurance coverage:
- Prohibits authorized and surplus lines insurance companies from cancelling a property insurance policy during any pending claim until after repairs are complete;
- Requires that Citizens cover property with open claims that are being handled by FIGA (Florida Insurance Guaranty Association); and
- Extends the current prohibition on applying any other deductible under the policy if a roof deductible is applied to any other loss to the property that’s caused by the same covered peril.
On claims handling:
- Requires OIR to ensure liability insurance companies are complying with proper claims handling practices by following specified best practices;
- Creates a 60-day prompt-pay law for non-PIP motor vehicle insurance claims similar to the prompt pay law for residential property insurance claims;
- Requires insurance companies to annually submit their claims manuals to the OIR, attest that the manual comports to usual and customary industry claims handling practices, and that the company has adequate resources to implement those practices; and
- Strengthens the Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act by:
- Prohibiting altering or amending an adjuster’s report without including a list of changes, who made the change, and an explanation of a change that reduces coverage; and
- Prohibiting payment of bonuses to officers and directors while an insurance company is impaired or insolvent.
- Makes title insurance rates subject to OIR rate review;
- Requires that property and auto rate filings include the combined effect of recent legislative reforms and appropriates $500,000 for an actuarial study to implement this requirement; and
- Requires that property insurance mitigation discounts be updated at least every 5 years and that carriers publish consumer-friendly discount information on their website.
- Prioritizes OIR Financial and Market Conduct Examinations, including property insurance companies after hurricanes who are in the top 20% in areas such as claim denials and consumer complaints;
- Requires OIR to submit quarterly reports to the Legislature to ensure OIR & DFS are ensuring carriers’ accountability;
- Prohibits the OIR from waiving its review of policy forms for 3 years for any carrier that has violated the Insurance Code;
- Increases maximum administrative fines by 250% generally and by 500% for violations during a state of emergency such as a hurricane (to $100,000 for “nonwillful” violations and up to $1 million for “willful” violations);
- Requires carriers to respond more promptly to the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Consumer Services and increases fines for noncompliance;
- Provides additional funding for the DFS Division of Consumer Services; and
- Requires carriers report any temporary suspension of writing new policies to OIR.
The bill also clarifies the current dispute in court on whether the SB 2-A reform passed last December eliminating one-way attorney fees to plaintiff lawyers is retroactive to the date of policy issue or instead the date the lawsuit was filed. This bill indicates it is not retroactive, stating “SB 2-A’s intent shall not be construed to impair any right under an insurance contract in effect on or before the effective date of that chapter law (December 16, 2022).” The bill, effective July 1, 2023, likewise makes the same clarification on its own provisions. You can see the latest Senate Bill analysis for more details.
Senator Powell asked the bill’s presenter, Senator Hutson, what the increased fines would accomplish. Hutson responded that the fines and penalties were coordinated with OIR to give regulators a better tool to go after bad actors but not too excessive. On top of the fines there is quarterly reporting so not only will they get hit with a heavier hammer but it will be transparent and public in front of the legislature and the media.” Senator Thompson in debate noted that there was nothing compensating the policyholder for any bad actions of the insurance company. The Senate bill was unanimously approved and is now awaiting its final stop in the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee, which as of this morning, is not scheduled to meet this week.
The House on April 6 developed a proposed committee bill, PCB COM 23-04 that was heard last Monday (April 10) before the House Commerce Committee. It approved it unanimously. The bill is more limited than the Senate version. It does not contain the same claims handling requirements on insurance companies or require they submit their claims manuals, nor have the prohibition against OIR waiving filing reviews. It also doesn’t prevent companies from cancelling a property insurance policy during any pending claim until after repairs are complete, as the Senate version does. The House version though has tougher fines. You can view the House Bill analysis for more details.
This past Friday (April 14) the formal House bill HB 7065 was filed, which has no substantive changes from the committee bill approved above last Monday. You can view a side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate bills. We are awaiting word on which committees will now hear this House bill. (Return to Top of List)
Financial Services ̶ HB 487 and SB 1158 by Rep. Michelle Salzman (R-Cantonment) and by Senator Nick DiCeglie (R-St. Petersburg) is the Department of Financial Services (DFS) annual omnibus bill which covers a myriad of topics under the jurisdiction of DFS, as well as the inner workings of the department itself. Topics include reinsurance, adjusters, insurance agents, workers’ comp, bail bonds, new rules on board and associations, and sales representatives. You can see the latest House Bill analysis and the latest Senate Bill analysis for details. The substance of both bills are similar; however, the sections are slightly off.
Last Wednesday (April 12), the House Appropriations Committee heard HB 487, which sponsor Rep. Salzman described as an “American bill” protecting the “American dream,” that streamlines department processes and protects consumers. It intends to make a variety of changes, including adding the state college system to the state’s deferred compensation program, ensuring injured workers get proper healthcare by ratifying the rules that allow providers to be properly reimbursed, and creating a firefighter direct support organization allowing firefighters to get charitable donations to support their efforts and resources, with little fiscal impact on local governments. There were no questions or debate on the bill and it passed unanimously through committee. It is scheduled to have its last hearing today (April 17) at 2pm before the House Commerce Committee before heading to the full House.
That same day, SB 1158 was heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government. An amendment was adopted that provided clarification on disagreements in workers’ compensation insurance cases, creating a sunset for the Fire Marshall and removing sections to allow for the Senate bill to be closer to the House bill. Senator Berman asked if there was anything in the bill addressing the DFS insurance consumer hotline hours of operation being reduced to just 3 hours a day, and if there was anything in the bill “requiring them to be open longer to answer questions?” However, Senator DiCeglie confirmed that there was nothing addressing or requiring that in the bill. The bill passed unanimously and is now awaits its last stop in the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee. (Return to Top of List)
Property Insurance ̶ HB 505 and SB 418 by Rep. Kim Berfield (R-Clearwater) and Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) revises requirements for residential property insurance rate filings. The bill allows a residential property insurance company’s rate filing to estimate projected hurricane losses by using a weighted or straight average of two or more models approved by the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology. The bill authorizes insurance companies to file with OIR their personal lines rating plans relating to windstorm mitigation construction standards and allows premium discounts and credits on residential property lines for windstorm mitigation measures. The bill also revises the timeframe for notices from carriers to policyholders of automatic bank withdrawal increases and revises requirements for notice of certain automobile policies.
SB 418 was heard in the Rules Committee on April 11, its last stop before the full Senate. An amendment was adopted that includes new language for any local governmental entity that is a member of a self-insurer. Only an elected official of the local governmental entity may be the local government’s representative on the self-insurer’s governing body. The amendment also significantly reworded the deductible language but kept the substance the same. It also added new language to provide that a motor vehicle service agreement company that maintains a contractual liability insurance policy in lieu of maintaining unearned premium reserve may have a policy that either pays 100% of claims as they are incurred or 100% of claims in the event of the failure of the service agreement company. The amendment was adopted, there was no debate and the bill unanimously passed out of the Rules Committee. It is now on the Special Order Calendar in front of the full Senate this Wednesday (April 19). You can see the latest Senate Bill analysis for details.
HB 505 was unanimously approved in the House State Administration & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee on March 21. It differs slightly from the Senate bill in that it does not contain the deductible thresholds that the Senate bill contains. The bill also allows the Executive Director of Citizens Property Insurance to designate a person to serve on the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology in the executive director’s place and allows for the electronic delivery of health insurance policy documents. The bill also removes requirements regarding sending paper insurance policy documents. Representative Nixon inquired about specific discounts and savings for the described resilience efforts, to which Representative Berfield responded that it depends on the type of mitigation and organization, but an example could be to use nails with ridging in them creating a stronger bond to a home or using a glue to secure it to the home. The bill unanimously passed the committee and will have its final stop today (April 17) in the House Commerce Committee at 2pm before heading to the full House. You can see the latest House Bill analysis for details. (Return to Top of List)
Motor Vehicle Liability Policies ̶ HB 57 and SB 516 by Rep. Keith Truenow (R-Tavares) and Senator Nick DiCeglie (R-St. Petersburg) revises the definition of “motor vehicle liability policy” to include certain policies issued by specified risk retention groups and further defines those groups as being “A”-rated and providing only commercial coverage for its members. The Senate bill was heard in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on March 22 and an amendment was adopted. The amendment authorizes qualified surplus lines insurance companies to provide commercial automobile insurance. Senator Thompson asked if this bill would stifle marketplace competition, but Senator DiCeglie insisted that as a business owner, this bill would offer options and parameters for market entrance into these groups, which “is always good.”
SB 516 was heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Criminal and Civil Justice on April 12 and was approved by an 11-1 vote. The bill is now on its final stop in the Senate Rules Committee before heading to the full Senate.
HB 57 was unanimously passed in the House Commerce Committee last Monday (April 10), its last stop before the full House. An amendment was adopted that authorizes an eligible surplus lines insurance company that meets applicable financial strength requirements to provide financial responsibility coverage for commercial motor vehicles. The bill is now on the Special Order Calendar of the House tomorrow (April 18). (Return to Top of List)
Motor Vehicle Glass ̶ HB 541 and SB 1002 by Rep. Griff Griffitts (R-Panama City) and by Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) and Senator Ed Hooper (R-Palm Harbor) bars vehicle insurance policyholders from entering into Assignment of Benefits (AOB) contracts with repair shops.
On March 14, 2023, the Insurance & Banking Subcommittee adopted an amendment that made the following changes to the House bill:
- Prohibits a policyholder or any other person from entering into an assignment agreement for post-loss benefits for motor vehicle glass replacement or repair under a motor vehicle insurance policy issued or renewed on or after July 1, 2023;
- Prohibits a repair shop or its employees from offering to a customer anything of value in exchange for making an insurance claim for motor vehicle glass replacement or repair. It also prohibits a non-employee who is compensated for soliciting insurance claims from making such offers;
- Expands the definition of “motor vehicle repair” to include ADAS calibration or recalibration and requires an electronic or written notice to the customer as to whether the calibration or recalibration of ADAS is required as part of the replacement or repair of motor vehicle glass;
- Allows an insurance company, when issuing or renewing a policy providing comprehensive coverage or combined additional coverage, to offer a policyholder or applicant a deductible of $250 for claims of damage to the windshield of a motor vehicle, which they may decline; and
- Establishes that, if a deductible for comprehensive coverage or combined additional coverage is applied to a loss that includes other damage in addition to windshield damage, no windshield damage deductible may apply.
HB 541 had its last stop this past Monday (April 10) in the House Commerce Committee and SB1002 had its final stop the next day in the Senate Rules Committee. An amendment was adopted on both bills that:
- Prohibits an insurance company from steering business to a particular windshield glass repair shop;
- Requires insurance companies, agents, and adjusters to provide at least two names of motor vehicle glass shops to claimants, if they provide any names;
- Permits insurance companies to explain a claimant’s motor vehicle comprehensive coverage benefits;
- Requires companies to offer discounts if a policy contains a managed repair arrangement;
- Clarifies that the bill only applies to the comprehensive or combined additional coverage provisions of personal lines motor vehicle insurance policies; and
- Clarifies that this provision does not create a cause of action.
CFO Jimmy Patronis spoke on behalf of the bills in both committees. He told a story about going to the Florida State Fair with his 9 year old son for a cabinet meeting, where he was approached by an individual asking if he had a chip on his windshield. He did in fact have a chip on his windshield, so the solicitor asked what insurance he had, if it was comprehensive, and told him they’d take care of it, and come directly to him, and so forth. Patronis called his office to dispatch officers and try to shut the operator down, but he explained to the committees that unfortunately what the vendor was doing was totally legal via a statute loophole. He emphasized in both meetings that this type of business model takes advantage of the policyholder and increases auto insurance rates. He also noted that in 2022, there were 37,000 lawsuits filed related to windshield insurance claims compared to 600 lawsuits filed the previous year.
In the Senate Rules Committee, Senator DiCeglie proposed an amendment which would prohibit insurance companies from “steering” consumers to specific companies, a provision which had already been included in the House bill. Senator Jones, referring to the concerns brought up in previous committees that consumers were being steered to SafeLite, asked, “Does this help fix concerns over small businesses?” Senator DiCeglie responded that the amendment helps take a step forward, citing agreements and arrangements between insurance companies and auto glass folks, and emphasized that the legislation levels the playing field. Senator DiCeglie’s amendment was added to the Senate bill. Both bills passed favorably through their committees.
HB 541 is now on the Calendar for consideration by the full House. SB 1002 is now on the Special Order Calendar this Wednesday (April 19) before the full Senate. (Return to Top of List)
Contacting Consumer Debtors ̶ SB 128 and HB 113 by Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez (R-Miami-Dade) and Rep. Alex Andrade (R-Pensacola) prohibits a creditor from contacting a consumer whose debt arose from documented elder and economic abuse or human trafficking. Those who violate that would be subject to the same sanctions as any other consumer debt collector. The bill also requires the state Office of Financial Regulation to inform and furnish relevant information to the appropriate regulatory body of the state, the Federal Government, or The Florida Bar if a person has been named in a certain consumer complaint alleging specified violations of law. It also authorizes debtors to bring civil actions against creditors who violate the act. We spend a lot of time trying to help the elderly, who are often victims of contractor fraud and/or unscrupulous attorneys. This is a helpful bill in combating additional abuse at the hands of such abusers. The House bill still awaits its first hearing before the Insurance & Banking subcommittee.
SB 128 was heard on March 29 in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee where an amendment was adopted that removed several provisions relating to who a creditor cannot contact. The intent is to provide protection for victims and require a signed affidavit identifying the debt to be served as a notice to stop contacting the victim. There was no debate, and the bill was unanimously passed. The bill is now on the agenda in the Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government tomorrow (April 18) at 12pm, its second of three committee stops. (Return to Top of List)
Collateral Protection Insurance on Real Property ̶ SB 410 and HB 793 by Senator Ileana Garcia (R-Miami) and Rep. Juan Fernandez-Barquin (R-Miami) creates a new section in Chapter 627 of the Florida Statutes, titled “Real Property Collateral Protection Insurance.” It establishes regulations for insurance companies and agents engaging in transactions involving collateral protection insurance (the so-called “lender-placed” or “force-placed” insurance) on real property, including manufactured and mobile homes. It defines terms, outlines the terms of policies, and provides calculations of coverages and premiums. It also prohibits certain practices, such as issuing collateral protection insurance if the insurance company or insurance agent owns the real property; compensating a lender, investor, or servicer on collateral protection insurance policies; offering contingent commissions, profit-sharing, or other payments dependent on profitability or loss ratios to any person affiliated with a servicer or the insurance company in connection with collateral protection insurance; and providing free or below-cost outsourced services to a lender, investor, or servicer. The bill also specifies the terms of the insurance policy, which must become effective no earlier than the date of lapse of insurance upon mortgaged real property and must terminate on the earliest of certain dates. It also states that an insurance charge may not be made to a mortgagor for collateral protection insurance before the effective date of the insurance or for a term longer than the scheduled term of the insurance.
HB 793 was heard in the House Commerce Committee last Monday (April 10) and was unanimously approved. It is now on the Special Order Calendar before the full House. The Senate companion, SB 410 had its first hearing on March 22 in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. Senator Powell asked for clarification on why the bill was necessary, to which Senator Hutson responded that they’re copying federal and other states’ legislation so that consumers can find insurance when there is a collapse in coverage. The bill passed unanimously. SB 410 is now on the agenda in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government tomorrow (April 18) at 12pm, its second of three committee stops. (Return to Top of List)
Natural Emergencies – SB 250 by Senator Jonathan Martin (R- Fort Myers) establishes temporary housing for disaster relief workers and makes permanent funding for local-government emergency loans. After both Hurricane Ian and Nicole devastated parts of the state last year, the Florida Legislature is pursuing a series of proposals, including SB 250, aimed at helping communities recover from future storms. Other provisions of the bill, based on the findings from the Senate Select Committee on Resiliency, include:
- Allowing residents to remain on their property in temporary housing, such as trailers, as they rebuild;
- Requiring faster approval of building permits to streamline the rebuilding effort;
- Retroactively prohibiting local governments from raising building fees until October 2024 in communities impacted by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole;
- Requiring faster removal of damaged derelict boats from state waters by their owners;
- Establishing temporary housing for disaster relief works;
- Establishing permanent funding for local government emergency loans;
- Requiring local governments have uniform pre-storm contracts for debris removal;
- Encouraging local governments and school districts to develop emergency financial plans for disasters; and
- Protecting the identities of people hurt or killed in natural disasters from public records searches to avoid potential fraud.
SB 250 was heard in the full Senate on April 3 and a clarifying amendment was adopted, after which it passed unanimously and is now headed to the House for consideration. You can see the final Senate Bill analysis for details.
The Senate bill now has a House companion, HB 7057, sponsored by Rep. Mike Giallombardo (R-Cape Coral) and Rep. Adam Botana (R-Bonita Springs), based on the work done over the past few months by the House Select Committee on Hurricane Resiliency & Recovery. The initial Proposed Committee Bill from the Commerce Committee was approved last week with an amendment. The formal bill will be heard today (April 17) at 9:30am before the House Appropriations Committee. You can see the latest House Bill analysis for details.
Causes of Action Based on Improvements to Real Property ̶ SIGNED INTO LAW HB 85 and SB 360 by Rep. John Snyder (R-Stuart) and Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) revises the timeline for filing lawsuits on design, planning, or construction defects. It shortens the 10-year statute of repose to 7 years and adjusts the trigger date of that 7 year marker by changing the commencement dates to run based on the date the Certificate of Occupancy was issued. The bill also specifies this timeline in regard to temporary certificate of occupancy, certificate of occupancy, and certificate of completion. On March 15, the full Senate passed SB 360 on a 31-8 vote and sent it to the House.
On March 23, the House adopted an amendment on HB 85 that made it identical to the Senate Bill, then substituted the Senate bill in its place. The House passed SB 360 on an 89-8 vote and sent it to the Governor. On April 13, the Governor signed the bill into law. (Return to Top of List)
Condominium and Cooperative Associations ̶ SB 154 and HB 1395 by Senator Jennifer Bradley (R-Fleming Island) and Rep. Vicki Lopez (R-Miami-Dade) makes several clarifying and technical changes to the requirements for Condominium and Cooperative Associations, including revising the circumstances under which community association managers or management firms must comply with the milestone inspection requirement passed in the May 2022 special session in SB 4-D. That requirement was born of the deadly June 2021 Surfside condo building collapse. The bill clarifies that milestone inspections apply to buildings that are three stories tall or higher; revises the definition of the terms “milestone inspection” and “substantial structural deterioration”; authorizes local enforcement agencies to make certain determinations relating to milestone inspections after a building reaches a specified age; authorizes municipal governing bodies to adopt certain ordinances relating to association repairs; revises the types of policyholders not required to purchase flood insurance as a condition for maintaining certain policies issued by the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation; and revises condominium association reserve account requirements for structural integrity improvements.
On March 16, SB 154 had its second hearing in the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee. We recommend reviewing the staff analysis and you can review below what the amendments changed to the underlying bill. Please note the House bill is quite different from the Senate bill so these bills are a moving target!
- Restructured the milestone inspection requirements for better clarity;
- Provided that the three-story height of a building is determined by the Florida Building Code;
- Required a building that reaches 30 years of age before December 31, 2024, to have a milestone inspection before December 31, 2024;
- Permitted local enforcement agencies to accept an inspection and report that was completed before July 1, 2022, with conditions; and
- Clarified that the requirement to ensure compliance with the milestone requirements apply to the associations and not to the unit owners.
SB 154 unanimously passed the full Senate floor last week on April 12 and is now awaiting consideration in the House. You can see the final Senate Bill analysis for details.
HB 1395 unanimously passed its second committee on March 29 and is now on the agenda for its final stop in the House Commerce Committee on today (April 17) at 2pm. You can see the latest House Bill analysis for more details. (Return to Top of List)
Flood Damage Prevention ̶ HB 859 and SB 1018 by Rep. Fabian Basabe (R-North Bay Village) and Senator Jay Trumbull (R-Panama City) provides legislative findings that public and private investments in communities are important for economic growth, and that protecting structures from flooding is essential to maintaining resilient communities. The bill modifies freeboard requirements for certain buildings. (Freeboard is the additional height, usually expressed as a factor of safety in feet, above the base flood elevation in determining the level at which a structure’s lowest floor or the bottom of the lowest horizontal structural member must be elevated.) The bill also establishes maximum voluntary freeboard requirements for all new construction and substantial improvements to existing construction and prohibits voluntary freeboard from being used in the calculation of the maximum allowable height for certain construction in applicable zoning districts. The bill requires the Florida Building Commission to develop and adopt minimum freeboard requirements by a specified date, and to review the freeboard requirements in the Florida Building Code every 5 years. The House bill is awaiting its first hearing in the Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee.
The Senate bill had its first hearing in the Community Affairs Committee on March 15 and passed unanimously. SB 1018 was heard in the Environment and Natural Resources Committee on March 27. During the meeting, Rep. Basabe noted that FEMA flood maps can be outdated or wrong, so they cannot rely solely on that deciding factor when determining which homes to elevate. As flooding worsens, property owners need tools to prepare their property for flooding, and elevation of the structure is the primary way to do that. Senator Harrell asked if federal FEMA dollars would be available for those areas where homeowners want to raise their homes, and the response was that because the process would be voluntary, there would be no direct assistance, but there could potentially be a reduction in flood credits for flood insurance. The bill passed unanimously and is now in its final stop in the Senate Rules Committee. (Return to Top of List)
My Safe Florida Home Program ̶ HB 881 and SB 748 by Rep. Chip LaMarca (R-Lighthouse Point) and Senator Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) amends the My Safe Florida Home Program , which seeks to offer incentives to homeowners to harden their homes from future hurricanes and reduce their insurance premiums as a result. The bill requires that licensed, rather than certified, inspectors are to provide hurricane mitigation inspections on site-built, single-family, residential properties that have been granted a homestead exemption. The bill also revises the information provided to homeowners as part of a hurricane mitigation inspection, revises the hurricane mitigation inspectors that may be selected by the Department of Financial Services to provide hurricane mitigation inspections, and deletes a provision requiring the department to implement a certain quality assurance program. Additionally, the bill revises the criteria for mitigation grant eligibility for homeowners; deletes a provision that subjects mitigation projects to random reinspection for a specified timeframe; revises the improvements for which mitigation grants may be used, including secondary water barriers for roofs; and revises the amount that low-income homeowners may receive from the department under the grant program.
The House bill was heard in the State Administration & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee on March 21. According to the sponsor, the program has been able to provide 22,000 inspections and approve 5,000 grant applications to date. The bill intends to improve the functionality of the program and expand its eligibility beyond simply windborne debris zones to include homeowners across the state. Representative Robinson noted that the bill expands the amount of people who can use it, but it does not seem to expand the amount of funding. Rep LaMarca responded that there is a separate legislative effort for budget issues to hopefully expand program funding, so once they expand the pool, the
funding would follow. The bill was unanimously approved on March 27 by the House Commerce Committee and is awaiting consideration in the full House.
SB 748 was heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government on last Wednesday April 12. During the meeting, the Senator Boyd explained that the purpose of this bill is to improve functionality of the program and expand eligibility for applicants across the entire state, not just wind-borne areas. Senator Garcia thanked him for the bill in honor of her constituents in Miami-Dade County. The bill passed unanimously through committee and is now awaiting its final stop in the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee. (Return to Top of List)
Limitation of Actions Involving Real Estate Appraisers and Appraisal Management Companies ̶ HB 213 and SB 398 by Rep. David Borrero (R-Miami-Dade) and Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez (R-Miami) is another bill aimed at reducing frivolous litigation. With the exception of allegations of fraud, it requires any action against a real estate appraiser or appraisal management company that occurred prior to July 1, 2023 must be filed by July 1, 2024. Subsequent actions would need to similarly be filed within one year after the alleged act is discovered or should have been discovered, but in any event brought no more than four years after services were rendered.
The House bill was heard in the House Judiciary Committee on April 11. An amendment was adopted that brings it more in line with the Senate version. It created a two-year statute of limitations for an action to recover damages from an appraiser or appraisal management company based on contract, tort, or other legal theory for an act or omission in the performance of appraisal services or appraisal management services. The amendment also reduced the seven-year statute of repose for such actions created by the bill to four years and added a provision specifying that all actions for damages or other relief brought against an appraiser or appraisal management company with respect to appraisal services or appraisal management services would be governed exclusively by the bill. Rep. Borrero closed by saying “this is a great tort reform bill which adds on to the tort reform package spearheaded by Chair Gregory.” There were no questions or debate on the bill or amendment and it passed favorably. The bill is now on the Special Order Calendar before the full House.
SB 398 was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 29 and an amendment was adopted that increases the amount of time that a plaintiff has to bring a lawsuit against an appraiser or appraisal management company for an act or omission in the performance of appraisal services from 1 year to 2 years after discovery. The amendment also clarifies that the time periods in the bill do not apply to an action founded upon fraud. The intent is to create a savings clause to ensure that plaintiffs having an accrued cause of action have at least 1 year after the effective date of the bill to bring an action for negligence in the provision of appraisal or appraisal management services. There was no debate and the bill was unanimously approved. The bill is now on the agenda in its final stop in the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday (April 19) at 8:30am, its final stop before the full Senate. (Return to Top of List)
Insurance (health) ̶ SB 312 and HB 1111 by Senator Jay Collins (R-Tampa) and by Rep. Webster Barnaby (R- Deland) revises restrictions on the use of genetic information for insurance purposes by life insurance and long-term care insurance companies. The bill specifies a restriction on and an authorized use of genetic information for insurance purposes by disability income carriers. It provides that certain restrictions against unfair discrimination or unlawful rebates do not include value-added products or services offered or provided by insurance companies or their agents if certain conditions are met.
In the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on March 29 an amendment was adopted on SB 312 that removed provisions in the bill that authorized a life insurance company, long-term care insurance company, or a disability income insurance company to use genetic information for underwriting purposes if the genetic information is contained in the applicant’s medical record. The amendment also removed language describing particular value-added products or services that was redundant of, and potentially conflicted with, existing provisions in the Act regarding gifts given by insurance companies to policyholders. The amendment also added a new section to reduce the number of hours of prelicensure coursework a life insurance agent applicant must complete in life insurance, annuities, and variable contracts – from 40 hours to 30 hours to better align with the rest of the country. The bill was unanimously approved with the amendment. On April 4 the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved SB 312 with no debate. The bill is now awaiting its final hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.
The comparable House bill, which focuses on the value-added insurance products, had its first hearing in the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee on March 21. It intends to clarify current law and remove red tape that bars life insurance providers the opportunity to offer value added insurance products, such as will preparation, grief counseling, and the safe return of a person’s remains if they passed away outside the US. Supporters contend these services could benefit consumers at no additional cost or even at a discount to their policy, while creating more competition in the marketplace – also benefiting Florida consumers. An amendment was adopted that removed two provisions of the bill regarding the use of genetic testing information by life insurance companies, long-term care insurance companies, and disability income carriers. Language was also removed regarding the description of value-added services that was redundant of, and potentially conflicted with, existing provisions in the Act regarding gifts given by insurance companies to its policyholders. The bill passed unanimously. HB 1111 is now on the agenda in the House Commerce Committee on today (April 17) at 2pm, its final stop before the full House. (Return to Top of List)
Telehealth Practice Standards ̶ HB 267 and SB 298 by Rep. Tom Fabricio (R-Miramar) and Senator Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) revises the definition of the term “telehealth” to strike the current prohibition on audio-only telephone calls, allowing Medicaid to elect reimbursement. A similar bill reached an impasse in last year’s regular session over whether to strike the prohibition.
The Senate Bill is now waiting for its final stop in the Senate Rules Committee. HB 267 passed unanimously last week (April 12) in the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee. It is now on the agenda in the House Health & Human Services Committee today (April 17) at 2pm, its final committee stop before heading to the full House. (Return to Top of List)
Physician Certifications for the Medical Use of Marijuana ̶ SB 344 & HB 387 by Sen. Jason Brodeur, (R-Sanford), and Rep. Spencer Roach, (R-North Fort Myers) would allow physicians to use telehealth to recertify medical-marijuana patients. Patients are required to receive in-person physical exams from physicians to get certified to use medical marijuana. Under current law, they also are required to be evaluated in person at least once every 30 weeks for recertification. This legislation would allow recertification to be done through telehealth, which generally involves using online technology to provide care remotely.
HB 387 passed unanimously in its final stop in the Health and Human Services Committee on March 17 and awaits consideration by the full House. SB 344 had its first hearing in the Senate Health Policy Committee on March 27 and an amendment was adopted that specifies that a renewal exam for medical marijuana conducted by telehealth must be conducted by the same qualified physician who conducted the initial exam. The amendment also added a provision allowing the Department of Health to suspend a qualified physician’s registration with the medical marijuana use registry for up to two years if he or she violates the provisions relating to advertising or marketing telehealth services before July 1, 2023. The bill was unanimously passed and is now on the agenda in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services tomorrow (April 18) at 8:30am, its second of three committee stops. (Return to Top of List)
Health Insurance Cost Sharing ̶ SB 46 and HB 1063 by Senator Tom Wright (R-Volusia) and Rep. Lindsay Cross (D-St. Petersburg) also addresses Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). It requires specified individual health insurance companies and their PBMs to apply payments by or on behalf of policyholders toward the total contributions of the policyholders’ cost-sharing requirements. Similar requirements would be made on specified health insurance groups and in contracts with PBMs.
The Senate Banking and Insurance committee on April 5 heard SB 46 which creates provisions relating to prescription drug cost-sharing requirements for individual health insurance companies, group health insurance companies, and health maintenance organizations. Senator Mayfield spoke in debate about how she fought for many years to bring transparency to PBM contracts, saying “Can we amend the bill to make it so they cannot change it during the 12-month formulary? Consumer protection should be the focus of insurance.” There was no amendment and the bill passed unanimously through the committee. It is now awaiting its second hearing in the Senate Health Policy Committee. The House bill is still awaiting its first hearing before the Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee. (Return to Top of List)
(NEW) Coverage for Skin Cancer Screenings ̶ HB 785 by Rep. Bobby Payne (R-Palatka) and Rep. Ralph Massullo (R-Inverness) and SB 142 by Senator Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) requires all health insurance plans, including HMOs, to cover and pay for annual skin cancer screenings. Rep. Massullo is a dermatologist and Senator Harrell worked as a health care practice administrator for more than 30 years. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. with one in five people getting it; yet it is also highly curable if detected early. The bill specifies the screening be performed by a licensed dermatologist without imposing any cost-sharing requirement on the patient. The Senate bill hasn’t yet received a hearing but the House bill has now had its first two committee meetings in the past three weeks, all with unanimous approval, with the third and final meeting scheduled before the House Health & Human Services Committee today (April 17) at 2pm. (Return to Top of List)
Implementation of the Recommendations of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force ̶ HB 423 by Rep. Lindsay Cross (D-St. Petersburg) and SB 1538 by Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) requires owners of certain onsite sewage treatment & disposal systems to have the systems inspected; requires DEP to administer the program; and requires estimated pollutant load reductions in basin management action plans to meet or exceed specified requirements. The bill revises requirements for allocation of such reductions, requires plans to provide & reevaluate certain mitigation strategies, and requires new or revised plans to list certain spatially focused projects. Finally, this legislation requires DEP to assess certain projects, and requires assessments to be included in plan updates.
The House bill is awaiting its first hearing in the House Water Quality, Supply & Treatment Subcommittee. The Senate bill adopted an amendment in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee on April 4. The amendment removes provisions requiring periodic inspections of onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems. It also removes language requiring new or revised basin management action plans to include a list that identifies and prioritizes spatially focused suites of projects in areas likely to yield maximum pollutant reductions. The bill was unanimously approved. SB 1538 is now on the agenda in the Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government tomorrow (April 18) at 12pm, its second of three stops before heading to the full Senate. (Return to Top of List)
Civil Remedies for Unlawful Employment Practices ̶ HB 315 and SB 738 by Rep. Alex Andrade (R-Pensacola) and Senator Jason Brodeur (R-Lake Mary) amends Section 760.11 of the Florida Statutes to provide limits on a judgment for punitive and compensatory damages for claims brought under the recently enacted Critical Race Theory (CRT) reforms. The bill allows judgment for the total amount of punitive damages awarded to an aggrieved party claiming CRT discrimination to be at least $50,000 and up to $1 million. The judgment for the total amount of compensatory damages awarded to the aggrieved person for mental anguish and loss of dignity must be the amount of the aggrieved person’s actual damages or three times the amount of his or her highest annual salary, whichever is greater. The total amount of recovery against the state and its agencies and subdivisions may not exceed the sovereign immunity limitations in statute. The right to trial by jury is preserved in any such private right of action in which the aggrieved person is seeking compensatory or punitive damages, and any party may demand a trial by jury. The Commission on Human Relations’ determination of reasonable cause is not admissible into evidence in any civil proceeding, including any hearing or trial, except to establish for the court the right to maintain the private right of action. A civil action brought under this section must be commenced no later than one year after the date of determination of reasonable cause by the commission. The commencement of such action divests the commission of jurisdiction of the complaint, except that the commission may intervene in the civil action as a matter of right. The House bill is awaiting its first hearing in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee, while the Senate bill has been assigned to Judiciary, one of three committee stops. (Return to Top of List)
Litigation Financing Consumer Protection – SB 1612 and HB 1447 by Senator Clay Yarborough (R- Jacksonville) and Rep. Toby Overdorf (R-Stuart) would regulate litigation finance (also called litigation funding or legal financing), where a third party unrelated to the lawsuit provides capital to a plaintiff involved in litigation in return for a portion of any financial recovery from the lawsuit. The measure would require litigation financiers to register with the Department of State and file a surety bond along with other registration requirements. It would also prohibit certain practices and conduct and establish requirements for such financiers to assess specified interest, fees and charges. A similar effort in the 2021 session failed. SB 1612 has been referred to the Judiciary and Fiscal Policy Committees and its House companion has been referred to the Civil Justice Subcommittee and Judiciary Committee. (Return to Top of List)
- Allows the recovery of extra-contractual damages for common law bad faith;
- Provides that automobile insurance companies also writing homeowners insurance may not continue to write in Florida unless at least 5% of their total policy count in the state is homeowners insurance policies;
- Requires new domestic residential property insurance companies to have a surplus of at least $30 million;
- Requires the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) to conduct market conduct exams after a hurricane under certain conditions;
- Requires the OIR to publish litigation data from 2021, 2022, and 2023 on its website;
- Requires Citizens Insurance to file litigation data with the Legislature each year;
- Removes the requirement that a Citizens Insurance policyholder must prove water damage was not caused by flood;
- Requires the Insurance Consumer Advocate to prepare an annual report analyzing rate filings involving a rate increase request and summarizing the grounds upon which the increase was approved;
- Provides that an admitted or surplus lines insurance company writing homeowners or commercial property insurance may not cancel or nonrenew a policy during a pending claim;
- Requires insurance companies to provide certain adjuster and engineer reports to the policyholder within 10 days after receipt and prohibits companies from imposing an additional premium because of a filed a claim, except under specific circumstances;
- Limits the ability of insurance companies to cancel coverage, require additional repairs, or increase the policy premium for the first contract year once a binder is issued;
- Provides that if a roof deductible is applied, no other deductible may be applied to any other loss caused by the same peril and requires 48 hours’ notice to a homeowner before an inspection of a homeowner’s residential property;
- Provides that repeated violations of the 90-day pay or deny rule is an unfair trade practice and that the claim filing deadlines in 627.70132 are tolled during the period of active duty for a policyholder in active military service; and
- Requires that a policyholder must agree to appraisal, that appraisal must be invoked within 30 days after presentation of a dispute, and that appraisal may not be invoked after the filing of a lawsuit.
SB 1340 has been referred to the Senate Banking and Insurance, Judiciary and Fiscal Policy Committees. HB 1431 is awaiting its first hearing in the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee. (Return to Top of List)
Surplus Requirements for Residential Property Insurers – SB 1528 and HB 1431 by Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) and Rep. Spencer Roach (R-North Fort Myers) increases surplus requirements from the current $15 million to $20 million for new property insurance companies entering the Florida market. Also, beginning July 1, 2030, and every 5 years after, the minimum surplus requirement must be increased by $5 million. SB 1528 has been assigned to the Senate Banking and Insurance and Rules Committees, and its companion HB 1431 is awaiting its first hearing in the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee. (Return to Top of List)
Insurance Claims – SB 1662 and HB 1497 by Senator Erin Grall (R-Fort Pierce) and Representative Jeff Holcomb (R-Spring Hill) requires the Office of Insurance Regulation to consider the recovery of funds under specified provisions in reviewing an insurance company’s rates. The bill also requires insurance companies to report the recovered funds under specified provisions and requires that a policyholder’s payment of a deductible or copayment is not a condition of a carrier’s claim payment. SB 1662 has been referred to the Senate Insurance and Banking, Judiciary, and Rules Committees, and its companion HB 1497 has been referred to the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee and Commerce Committee. (Return to Top of List)
Motor Vehicle Insurance ̶ HB 429 and SB 586 by Rep. Danny Alvarez (R-Brandon) and Senator Erin Grall (R-Fort Pierce) is a perennial effort to do away with Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage under Florida’s No-Fault insurance law and replace it with bodily injury (BI) liability coverage. The primary difference between PIP and mandatory BI is that under PIP, someone injured in an auto accident seek coverage first under their own PIP policy, whereas under mandatory BI, someone injured in an auto accident would seek recovery from a responsible third-party’s (other driver’s) BI coverage. The House bill is still awaiting its first hearing in the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee. The Senate bill is still awaiting its first hearing in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. (Return to Top of List)
Commercial Vehicle Insurance ̶ SB 434 by Senator Tom Wright (R-Port Orange) revises liability insurance requirements for movers’ commercial motor vehicles and revises additional liability insurance requirements for commercial motor vehicles, providing an exception and a requirement for wreckers. The bill currently has no House companion and is awaiting its first hearing in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. (Return to Top of List)
Emergency Residential Property Insurance Assistance Trust Fund – SB 1526 and HB 1415 by Senator Tracie Davis (D-Jacksonville) and Rep. Angie Nixon (D-Jacksonville) establishes a trust fund within the Department of Financial Services (DFS) that will assist homeowners with annual income under $250,000 acquire homeowners insurance. SB 1526 has been referred to three committees, and its House companion is now in the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee. (Return to Top of List)
Home Repairs and Solicitation Sales ̶ HB 419 by Rep. John Temple (R-The Villages) requires unlicensed vendors to take certain actions within a specified timeframe after receiving initial payment. The bill provides conditions under which such vendors do not have just cause, provides criminal penalties and guidelines for prosecuting violations, and revises exemption from permitting requirements for certain solicitors, salespersons, and agents. The bill currently has no Senate companion and is awaiting its first hearing in the House Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee. (Return to Top of List)
Flood Disclosures for Real Property Sales ̶ SB 484 & HB 325 by Senator Jennifer Bradley (R-Fleming Island) & Rep. Susan Valdes (D-Tampa) would require people selling real estate to provide information to buyers about flooding. Under the bill, sellers would be required to disclose information such as whether the property has sustained flood damage; whether it is located in a designated flood-hazard zone; whether sellers have received federal assistance for flood damage; and whether flood damage insurance claims have been filed. The Senate bill is awaiting its first hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, while the House bill awaits its first hearing in the House Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee. (Return to Top of List)
Flood Zone Disclosures for Dwelling Units ̶ SB 716 and HB 1291 by Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) by Rep. Bruce Antone (D-Orlando) requires landlords or persons authorized to enter into rental agreements on behalf of landlords to make written disclosures to tenants before the commencement of a tenancy regarding whether the dwelling unit is located within a flood zone established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This disclosure must include the risk designation for the flood zone and definition of the designation. The Senate bill is awaiting its first hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, while the House bill has been assigned to the Civil Justice Subcommittee, Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee, and Judiciary Committee. (Return to Top of List)
Access to Pharmacies and Prescription Drugs Under Insurance and Pharmacy Benefit Managers Policies ̶ HB 203 by and SB 420 by Rep. Karen Gonzalez Pittman (R-Hillsborough) and Senator Tom Wright (R-Port Orange) addresses much of the Governor’s proposal requiring OIR to examine PBMs to ascertain compliance with specified laws; requires PBMs to have standard contracts with pharmacies; prohibits PBMs from denying pharmacies & pharmacists the right to participate as contract providers; authorizes persons & entities to bring actions & injunctive relief; prohibits PBMs from engaging in acts against patients; and prohibits health insurers & PBMs from engaging in acts relating to covered clinician-administered drugs. The House bill is awaiting its first hearing in the House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee. The Senate bill is awaiting its first hearing in the Senate Health Policy Committee.
Governor DeSantis released a legislative proposal of reforms January 12 on Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) that “will enhance transparency and reduce the influence of pharmacy middlemen, which will help consumers as well as our small pharmacies,” he said. This is a subject we have followed for years and picks up where the Florida Legislature left off in March 2022 with passage of HB 357 to increase oversight of PBMs, in part by giving the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) more authority over the companies. (Return to Top of List)
LMA Newsletter of 4-17-23