Update on insurance bills
The Florida Legislature is back at the Capitol in Tallahassee today for a scheduled weeklong special session to consider a gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. With coronavirus precautions now eased, this session will be fully open to the public, including the observation galleries in the House and Senate Chambers, and for in-person committee testimony.
Following up on the regular session that ended April 30, all eyes are on the two insurance bills that passed – SB 54 (repeal of PIP no-fault auto insurance) and SB 76 (property insurance reform). The need for SB 76 is growing by the week. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) in the past two weeks has approved the cancellation of 53,000 homeowners policies by three Florida-based carriers, citing deteriorating market conditions. Most of those displaced homeowners will most certainly end up turning to Citizens Property Insurance, the state’s insurer of last resort, whose rapidly growing policy count is expected to hit 750,000 by the end of this year. Also this month, two other domestic carriers – FedNat Insurance and United (UPC) – each posted first quarter net losses of $19.4 million. UPC also added $150 million in loss creep from Hurricane Irma.
As of this writing, SB 76 hasn’t been presented to the Governor for his signature. While the legislature is in session, the state constitution allows a 7-day period following presentation of a bill for the Governor to sign or veto the bill. If the legislature adjourns before an act is presented to the Governor or while an act is in the Governor’s possession, the Governor has 15 days from the date of presentation in which to take action – either sign, veto or let it become law without his signature. For more information, go to Article III, section 8 of the Florida Constitution.
Over the past two weeks since its passage, there has been heavy lobbying, including billboards along major roads and highways, urging the Governor to veto SB 54, which would end Florida’s no-fault automobile insurance system. Among the groups putting on a heavy press are the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida, the Florida Insurance Council, and the Florida Chamber’s Consumer Protection Coalition.
Also last week, the Governor signed SB 1954 and SB 2514 that create and fund sea-level rise and flood resiliency efforts across the state. For a recap of insurance-related bills from the regular session, consult our 2021 Bill Watch. Rep. Bob Rommel’s office provided this list of all 275 bills that passed the legislature.
During the last week of the regular session, the Senate unanimously approved various executive agency appointments. These include Julie Brown as Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), Simone Marstiller as Secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), Dane Eagle as Executive Director of the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), Peter Antonacci as Director and Chief Judge of the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH), Shevaun Harris as Secretary of the Department of Children and Families (DCF), and John Davis as Secretary of the Department of the Lottery. We wish all these agency secretaries our best.
LMA Newsletter of 5-17-21