June 27, 2014
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June 23, 2014
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Florida’s passage of a homeowners’ claims bill of rights left few satisfied after lawmakers largely codified current law while avoiding controversial issues such as the practice of policyholders assigning their claims payments to contractors.
The bill of rights was a priority of the state’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and was initially drafted by the state’s insurance consumer advocate’s office.
Atwater said the bill is needed given that about 350,000 homeowners file claims each year and his office receives 125,000 calls from policyholders either filing complaints or searching for answers about their claims.
“This much-needed bill of rights will notify Florida homeowners of their rights and responsibilities when filing an insurance claim and give them confidence that they will be treated fairly during a stressful situation involving their home,” stated Atwater.
The 12-point bill of rights is meant to inform homeowners of timelines such as one requiring insurance companies to acknowledge a claim within 14 days of being filed. Additionally, insurers must within 30 days of receiving a proof-of-loss statement, confirm a claim is covered, partially covered or denied. Within 90 days, insurers must either pay the claim in full or in part or deny the claim.
The bill of rights also advises policyholders what they need to do in case they have property damage, including that they should contact their insurer before hiring a contractor.
While Atwater and his allies have been declaring victory, some who participated in crafting the bill walked away disappointed in an outcome that created no new legal rights for homeowners or insurers.
What seemed at first a rather non-controversial piece of legislation turned into a heated debate over a so-called “assignment of benefits” provision.
Under this provision, homeowners can sign over their financial rights to be paid for a claim so that instead the payments are made directly to a contractor making repairs instead of to the homeowner.
The contractor also assumes the policyholder’s legal right to dispute a claim and file suit against an insurer. If the contractor prevails in court, in addition to the insurer having to pay the claim, it must also pay the contractor’s legal bills.
From insurers’ point of view, this has created a cottage industry where trial lawyers and contractors work to maximize the monies they can receive from insurers regardless of the real cost of the claim.
Personal Insurance Federation of Florida Executive Director Michael Carlson said that is a major reason his association supported doing away with the assignment of benefits.
“What we are seeing under assigned benefits is unscrupulous contractors who tell homeowners that in order to get repairs they have to sign a form signing away their rights,” said Carlson. “Then the vendor will inflate the claims costs then tell the insurer you owe us this much or we will sue you.”
Carlson said that in addition to increasing claims costs and unnecessary litigation, the assignment of benefits practice keeps consumers in the dark about their own claims. For example, he said, policyholders have had lawsuits filed on their behalf without their knowledge.
Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for quotes on Home, Auto, Flood, Business & Commercial, & Life & Financial products as well.
May 15, 2014
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Responding to pleas from highway troopers and the state’s sheriffs, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday he will veto a bill that could increase the speed limit on Florida highways from 70 to 75 mph.
Scott said that he has decided to “stand with law enforcement” who urged him to veto the legislation that narrowly passed the Florida Legislature late last month.
“I want everybody to stay safe, I don’t want anybody to be injured,” Scott said. “I think by doing this we are doing the right thing for our troopers and the right thing for law enforcement. I’ve been to too many law-enforcement funerals.”
The bill (SB 392) would not raise speed limits automatically, but would allow the Department of Transportation to increase them when it saw fit. The department could also raise the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph on rural, four-lane divided highways and up to 65 mph on other roads.
Legislators only approved the bill after a contentious debate where opponents said raising Florida’s speed limits would embolden motorists to drive faster and result in more accidents.
Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, and one of the sponsors of the bill, contended that the safety concerns were not accurate.
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March 31, 2014
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the push by Jeff Atwater is in serious jeopardy. That’s because insurers, such as State Farm Florida, are only willing to accept the added protections if they come with other changes that could help keep their costs down.
The bill would create a “homeowner claims bill of rights” that requires insurers to spell out to homeowners what they can expect when they file a claim.
The legislation also would prohibit insurance companies from using credit information to deny a claim or cancel a policy if the policy has been in effect for more than 90 days. This provision came out of a dispute between regulators and one of Florida’s largest insurance companies.
Atwater said that the Legislature has given consumers specific rights over the years, “but consumers don’t have a bookshelf at home with these statutes. They are not conversant in this.”
But some insurers want a separate provision that would place limits on when a homeowner can sign over to a contractor the right to collect payments directly from an insurance company. They contend that this is a looming problem and that some companies hired to fix roofs and repair water damage have inflated the costs. Without the change the fear it is could drive up homeowner insurance rates once again.
Atwater initially backed this provision and said there are places where it is being abused. But the provision has drawn opposition from contractors and earlier this month a Senate panel voted to strip it out of the bill (SB 708).
Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for quotes on Home, Flood, Auto, Business & Commercial and Life & Financial products as well. Please enjoy the full article below;
January 21, 2014
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In response to Jeff Atwater the CFO of Florida, Kevin McCarty has finally decided to help Floridians and the Real estate market in General. Several Months ago I blogged about this issue raised by The CFO and now we finally have some positive answers. I have already seen some carriers reducing rates for the Spring so good things to look forward to as long as Hurricanes like Andrew, Katrina, Wilma & Sandi do not find their way to Florida. Please enjoy the full article below from the Insurance Journal. Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for quotes on Home, Auto, Flood, Business & Commercial, and life Insurance products as well.
October 31, 2013
CFO Jeff Atwater is after the Insuarnce Commissioner Kevin McCarty for answers on Home Insurance prices!!!Posted by homeinsuranceguru under Auto Insurance, CFO, Flood Insurance, Florida, Forclosure, Fort Lauderdale, Home Owners Insurance, Reinsurance, Rick Scott GOP | Tags: Auto Insurance, Car Insurance, CFO, CFO Jeff Atwater, Flood Insurance, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, Governor, Governor Rick Scott, Home, Homeowners, Insurance, Kevin McCarty Insurance Commissioner |
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Reinsurance prices have dropped this year, but we are not seeing any relief with price decreases yet on Home Insurance, and our CFO is finally asking the question why. This has taken a while as prices are way above where they were after Hurricane Wilma and things have improved since then in many ways! The reason is simple!! No one has made them lower rates. They are following the requests of our Governor Rick Scott when he came into office saying the Insurance companies need to get fiscally healthy, but not many knew what that meant. Let’s see how this pans out as The people of Fort Lauderdale, and all of S. Florida need a rate hike break as it is killing the Real estate market as well. So many are struggling with budgets and Foreclosures are still everywhere so why does the Insurance rates have to be so high. I like the pressure from the CFO and it is long overdue! Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for quotes on Home, Auto, Flood, Business & Commercial, and Life Insurance products as well. Please enjoy the full article below!
August 12, 2013
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Many questions and many more answers that still lead to more questions. The one real question is our system is so bad and controlled by Tall. that no one knows where to begin. I still affirm that you cannot deal with one problem, the system needs major overhauling. This is not liklely tgo happen anytime soon, so those of us in Fort lauderdale, S. Florida and just paying to much for Insurance, there is still no relief in sight with this Governor!!!! Please read the full article below and please call L & S at 1-888-244-7400 for quotes on Home, Auto, Flood, Business & COmmercial and Life Insurance products as well.