5.  FLOOD INSURANCE RELIEF SB 542 achieved final passage on May 1 and will be sent to the Governor. This legislation contains language de-regulating rates for private flood insurance for the next few years, which can be offered in a stand-alone policy, or as a coverage or endorsement to a homeowner’s policy.  Insurers would also have the option of filing their rates for approval.

The legislation allows insurers limited flexibility to design their forms and coverages. The bill allows insurers to write only four types of flood insurance, standard, preferred, custom and supplemental.  The standard policy will track coverages under the existing Federal flood program, and uses the current definition.  Under the house bill, the preferred plan provides additional coverage by expanding the definition of “flood”, adding additional living expenses, and mandating replacement cost for personal property, instead of ACV.  The expanded definition of Flood includes water intrusion originating outside a structure that are not considered a flood loss under a standard flood policy issued by the NFIP.  “Custom policies” must include the standard coverage at a minimum, but allow insurers to be creative.  “Supplemental policies” authorizes a wrap policy product that is sold in conjunction with someone that has existing flood coverage from the NFIP or a voluntary insurer.

Agents must notify consumers being removed from the NFIP by a voluntary insurer that if the consumer later wants to re-enter the NFIP, a full risk rate for flood insurance may by charged by NFIP.  This bill encourages surplus lines insurers to offer flood by eliminating the three declinations from other insurers when placing flood coverage.

Insurers must notify the OIR 30 days before they begin to write flood insurance, and file a plan of operation and financial pro forma with the OIR.

This legislation is effective upon becoming law.

6.  HOMEOWNER CLAIMS BILL OF RIGHTS PASSES WITHOUT ASSIGNMENT OF BENEFITS SB 708 achieved final passage on April 30 and will be transmitted to the Governor. This legislation was a priority of Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. “The Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights is a much-needed resource for homeowners that will notify them of their rights and responsibilities when filing an insurance claim and give them the confidence that they will be treated fairly during a stressful situation,” said CFO Atwater.

This legislation requires insurers to provide a “claims bill of rights” to consumers that file homeowners’ claims within 14 days after the claim is reported.  We worked extensively to make the notices track existing law provisions throughout the insurance code, and inserted language clarifying that this notice does not create new law or a new cause of action in the courts.  Originally, the legislation included numerous requirements for contractors accepting an assignment of benefits (“AOB”).  The Legislature removed the AOB language, as passage of weak AOB requirements could weaken progress insurers may make in the courts by codifying clearly that AOB’s are permissible.

Upon signing by the Governor, this legislation is effective July 1, 2014.

 

7.  TWO CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE CORPORATION MEASURES PASS HB 1089 achieved final passage on April 28 and will be transmitted to the Governor. This legislation provides that, with respect to wind-only coverage for commercial lines residential condominiums, effective July 1, 2014, a condominium is ineligible for coverage if 50% or more of the units are rented more than eight times per calendar year for a rental period of less than 30 days. This legislation also delays the implementation of the prohibition on Citizens coverage for new construction seaward of the coastal construction control line or within the Coastal Barrier Resources System from July 1, 2014 until July 1, 2015.

Upon signing by the Governor, this legislation is effective July 1, 2014.

HB 1672 achieved final passage on May 1 and will be transmitted to the Governor. This legislation directs Citizens to stop writing new commercial residential multi-peril policies in the coastal account. Citizens will write separate wind and all-other perils policies for these structures. Among the other items set forth in this legislation is the prohibition on insurance agents, brokers or insurance agency employees from accepting any referral fees or other compensation from an authorized mitigation inspector. This legislation creates the same process for Citizens that exists for state agencies, which allow bid protests to go before an administrative law judge at the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings.  Citizens is required to issue an annual report of its estimated bonding capacity, estimated claims paying capacity and estimated year-end cash balance.

Language placing surplus lines into the Clearinghouse was stricken from the bill.

Upon signing by the Governor, except as otherwise expressly provided in the act, this legislation shall take effect July 1, 2014.

 

16.  MAXIMUM SPEED LIMIT INCREASESB 392 achieved final passage on April 30 and will be transmitted to the Governor. This legislation raises the speed limit on access highways to 75 miles per hour and certain other highways to 70 miles per hour. Additionally, the Department of Transportation is authorized to set such maximum and minimum speed limits over other roadways under its authority as it deems safe, not to exceed a maximum of 65 miles per hour.

Upon signing by the Governor, this legislation is effective July 1, 2014.

Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for quotes on Home, Auto, Business & Commercial, & Life & Financial products as well.