April 2021


Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

1.     RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY INSURANCE/CONTINGENCY RISK MULTIPLIER SB 76/HB 305 SB 76 by Senator Boyd passed off the full Senate floor this week 27-13. The bill revises the statutes that govern property insurance policies including attorney fees, roof coverage provisions, notice periods for bringing claims, alternative dispute resolution, lawsuits involving property insurance policies, consolidation of legal actions, and assignment agreements. Additionally, the bill establishes a third-degree felony for knowingly aiding or abetting an unlicensed person who transacts or engages in insurance activities without a license.  The bill eliminates the attorney fee multiplier unless it is a rare and exceptional case.  The bill amends the roof coverage provisions through the use of a roof surface reimbursement schedule to limit coverage in a personal lines residential property insurance policy. The roof surface reimbursement schedule must provide for full replacement coverage for any roof surfaces type less than 10 years old. For roofs 10 years old or older the reimbursement schedule is as follows:·        70 percent for a metal roof type;·        40 percent for a concrete tile and clay tile roof type;·        40 percent for a wood shake and wood shingle roof type;·        25 percent for all other roof types.

Additionally, the bill allows an insurer to offer a state value sublimit on roof coverage. The bill also amends current law to require that a claim, supplemental claim, or reopened claim under a property insurance policy must be provided to the insurer within 2 years of the date of loss. Other provisions in the bill include:·        Allowing an insurer to require mediation as a 1st party claimant or a 3rd party assignee.·        Creating a “Texas” style 1st party attorney fee reform.·        Requiring the consolidation of multiple residential actions involving the same property.·        Modifying the AOB law to conform with the new “Texas” attorney fee model.·        Requesting the Florida Supreme Court to require plaintiff and defense lawyers to disclose their attorneys fees. The House version of this bill, HB 305 by Representative Rommel, passed its second of three committees, the House Civil Justice and Property Rights committee this week. The bill makes several changes including the following: ·        Residential Property Insurance Claims for Roof Damage – The bill establishes that a contractor or unlicensed person acting on behalf of the contractor may not solicit or incentivize the filing of a roof damage insurance claim by a residential property owner or interpret policy provisions. It also establishes that a public adjuster, a public adjuster apprentice, or unlicensed persons acting on their behalf may not incentivize the filing of a roof damage insurance claim by a residential property insurance owner.

·        Clarifies that OIR has the authority to examine MGAs, including affiliates of insurers, as it examines insurers, even if the MGA represents a single domestic insurer. It requires that each insurer paying an affiliate produce information about fees paid to the affiliate upon request by OIR. It also requires that all MGAs execute contracts with the insurers they do business with even if they are affiliates of the insurers.·        Establishes that each insurer or insurer group doing business in Florida shall file specific data regarding litigation of personal and commercial residential property insurance claims on a quarterly basis.·        The bill makes several changes to the operations of, and requirements for, Citizens, the state-run property insurer: 

  • Revising the eligibility for residential property owners to obtain coverage from Citizens so that they are not eligible for Citizens’ coverage if they can obtain coverage from private insurers that is less than 20 percent greater than the premium for comparable coverage from Citizens 
  • Establishing that if Citizens does not buy reinsurance to cover its projected 100-year probable maximum loss, it must still include the cost of such reinsurance in its rate calculations.
  • Establishing that no employees of Citizens may receive salaries in excess of 150 percent of the salary received by the head of OIR, with certain exceptions.

·        The bill changes the notice of claim deadlines in the Insurance Code so that notice of any property insurance claim must be provided to a property insurer within two years of the date of loss.·        The bill creates new statutory requirements for residential or commercial property suits that are not brought by an assignee, including a ten-day presuit notice and demand, after a determination of coverage, before bringing suit against an insurer. An insurer served with this notice must respond in writing within ten days by either making a settlement offer or requiring participation in an appraisal or alternative dispute resolution proceeding as provided for in the policy.

4.     CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE SB 1574SB 1574 by Senator Brandes passed its second of three committees, the Agriculture Appropriations Committee, with an amendment on March 16th and will be up next in Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government. The bill makes several changes to the statutes governing Citizens including:·        Requiring reasonable agent commission for policies placed in Citizens not to exceed the average of commissions paid in the preceding year by the 20 admitted insurers writing the greatest market share of property insurance in Florida. Given the recent Citizens Property Insurance Board discussion regarding the concept of removing all agent commissions to advance depopulation goals, Senator Brandes developed this language in response.·        Providing that eligible surplus lines insurers may participate in depopulation, take-out, or keep-out programs; and·        Authorizing information from underwriting files and confidential claims files to be released by Citizens to entities considering writing or underwriting risks insured by Citizens.·        Revising the method for determining the amounts of potential surcharges to be levied against policyholders;·        Removes all new business, 2nd homes, and any homes with dwelling values over 700,000 from the Citizens (glide path) premium cap. It has been a long-held belief by agent groups that commission levels should not be inserted into the statute in any context for various reasons, including the fact that what goes up can also go down. These groups are lobbying Citizens to not take any action to reduce agent commissions.

1.     PIP REPEAL SB 54/HB 719 SB 54 by Senator Burgess passed its third and final committee stop in week 2 and was set for the Senate floor on March 25th. However the bill was again TP’d on the Senate floor on April 1st and 7th, and has been now retained on the Special Order Calendar, until it may be heard on the next floor session.  The bill repeals the Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law, which requires every owner and registrant of a motor vehicle in this state to maintain Personal Injury Protection coverage. Beginning January 1, 2022, the bill enacts financial responsibility requirements for liability for motor vehicle ownership or operation, as follows:·        For bodily injury (BI) or death of one person in any one crash, $25,000, and, subject to that limit for one person, $50,000 for BI or death of two or more people in any one crash.·        The bill sets a lower financial responsibility requirement of $15,000 for BI or death of one person, and $30,000 for BI or death of two or more persons, for persons having a household income of 200 percent or less of the federal poverty guidelines and for full time students attending a secondary or post-secondary school.·        The existing $10,000 financial responsibility requirement for property damage (PD) is retained. The bill increases required coverage amounts for garage liability and commercial motor vehicle insurance. It increases the cash deposit amount required for a certificate of self-insurance establishing financial responsibility for owners and operators of motor vehicles that are not for hire vehicles.

The bill requires insurers to offer MedPay with limits of $5,000 or $10,000 to cover medical expenses of the insured. Insurers may also offer other policy limits that exceed $5,000. Insurers must offer a zero-deductible option for MedPay, and may also offer deductibles of up to $500. Insurers must reserve $5,000 of MedPay benefits for 30 days to pay physicians or dentists who provide emergency services and care or who provide hospital inpatient care. The repeal of the No-Fault Law eliminates the limitations on recovering pain and suffering damages from PIP insureds, which currently require bodily injury that causes death or significant and permanent injury. Under the bill, the legal liability of an uninsured motorist insurer includes damages in tort for pain, suffering, disability or physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, inconvenience, and the loss of past and future capacity for the enjoyment of life. The bill creates a new framework to govern all third-party claims against motor vehicle insurers for bad faith failure to settle. The bill requires the third-party claimant in a bad faith failure to settle action to show the insurer violated its duty of good faith to the insured and in bad faith failed to settle the claim. The bill requires motor vehicle insurers to follow claims handling best practices standards based on long-established good faith duties related to claim handling, claim investigation, defense of the insured, and settlement negotiations. 

The bill establishes that it is a condition precedent to bringing a third-party action for bad faith failure to settle that the claimant serve a detailed demand for settlement within the insured’s policy limits. The third-party bad faith claimant may condition the demand for settlement on taking a 2-hour examination under oath (EUO) of the insured, limited to discovering possible sources of recovery. The claimant may withdraw the demand for settlement after the EUO. If the insured refuses to submit to the EUO, the insurer may tender policy limits without obtaining a release of the insured, and if the insurer does so, it no longer has a duty to defend the insured, and may not be held liable if there is an excess judgment against the insured. The bill provides a safe harbor to the insurer in a third-party bad faith failure to settle action providing that an insurer is not liable for bad faith if it tenders (offers to pay) policy limits in exchange for a release of its insured from further liability within 60 days after receiving a demand for settlement from a single claimant. Where there are multiple claimants, the insurer is not liable for bad faith if it initiates an interpleader action within 60 days after receiving the competing demands. The bill requires the trier of fact, when determining if an insurer in bad faith failed to settle, to consider certain actions of the insurer such as compliance with best practices along with certain actions of the insured and claimant. The bill also prohibits punitive damages in a third-party bad faith failure to settle action. The bill provides that if a motor vehicle insurer fails to timely provide information related to liability insurance coverage, the claimant may file an action to enforce the section, and is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney fees and costs to be paid by the insurer.

The bill authorizes the exclusion of a specifically named individual from specified insurance coverages under a private passenger motor vehicle policy, with the written consent of the policyholder. The bill also allows an insurer that offers comprehensive coverage to offer a separate windshield deductible of up to $200, provided the insured is given an actuarially sound discount for electing the deductible and provided that a no deductible option is offered. The bill also prohibits auto repair shops from coercing consumers, paying referral fees, or giving rebates or gifts related to a windshield claim. Senator Burgess has filed 5 amendments to be heard on the floor, the amendments make the following changes to the original bill:·        Bad faith is revised as followsa)      Defines “bad faith failure to settle” to include failure to meet the duty of good faith, which is the proximate cause of the insurer’s failure to settle when it could have done so under the common law standard. b)      Creates a provision requiring the insurer to give fair consideration to settlement offers under certain circumstances; requires the insurer to continue to make settlement offers (if an excess judgment is likely) through the end of trial. c)      Removes the EUO provision that carriers were concerned about and replaces it with a financial affidavit. d)      Revises the 60-day safe harbor to apply, in the case of a single claim arising out of a single occurrence, to bad faith failure to settle claims if the insurer complies with the duties to evaluate the claim fairly, to inform its insured of certain matters, and to settle where a reasonably prudent person would settle and continue to offer limits in settlement throughout the bodily injury trial if an excess verdict is likely. 

e)      Creates a new 60-day safe harbor for multiple claimant scenarios if the insurer globally tenders limits to known claimants upon receipt of notice of loss and if it complies with the duty to try to minimize the magnitude of an excess judgment against its insured. f)       Revises the burden of proof to require the claimant to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the insurer violated the best practices provisions. If so, a rebuttable presumption is created that the insurer’s failure to comply constitutes the proximate cause of its bad faith failure to settle the claim. This can be rebutted by the insurer providing, also by a preponderance, that the violation of best practices was not the proximate cause of the excess judgment, or that the insurer met the requirements of the safe harbor. g)      Removes interpleader and restates common law as to multiple claimants. h)      Requires 5 year retention of written and verbal communications.  ·        Glass: Strikes glass language auto repair, inducement and deductible provisions in 2 sections of the bill.  ·        Med Pay: Revises med pay and financial responsibility language. Removes “reasonable” charges and clinics as well as limits coverage to named insured, resident relative and permissive drivers; “deems” $5,000 of MedPay coverage unless insured affirmatively opts out.·        BI: Strikes the bodily injury limits section including the lower limits based on federal poverty level. ·        BI: Inserts a new section of bodily injury limits which is being called “No Pay, No Play” and limits to economic damages only when the injured party fails to meet financial responsibility requirements for more than 30 days. Damages are capped at $25K for BI and property damage capped at $10K for property damage. Exclusions apply when injury caused as a result of a DUI driver, intentional acts, hit and run or driver fleeing a felony. 

HB 719 by Representative Grall passed its first of three committee stops in week 2 and still awaits a hearing in its second stop the House Insurance and Banking subcommittee. The bill is similar to the Senate version but does not contain the same bad faith reform provisions, does not allow for the lower limits based on income level, and does not include the Senate provisions relating to windshield deductible.  While momentum has been lost on these PIP bills, it does not mean that the bills are dead.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

Denny Pewsey said he paid $10,000 to put a new roof on his Orange County home.Sign up for our Newsletters

“They said they weren’t going to renew my insurance because of the age of the roof, which was only 19 years old,” Pewsey said.

His home insurance costs have been going up. His home insurance now costs $3,200.

“I think now, a couple of years ago, it was about $1,800. I thought that was very high,” Pewsey said.

Pewsey isn’t the only one facing high home insurance costs. Earlier this year, the Office of Insurance Regulation said that solicitation appears to be what’s bringing the cost up.

“This isn’t a consumer noticing they’ve got a leak, this isn’t a consumer having a tree hit their roof, this is somebody who saw an advertisement. (In this case someone) had

something hung on their door that says if you give me a call, I’ll get you a new roof through your insurance company,” said David Altmaier, during a hearing held in January 2021.

It’s part of the reason why Republican Sen. Jim Boyd introduced Senate Bill 76, which just passed 27 to 13.

Part of it could impact your roof coverage. If your roof is under 10 years old and gets damaged, you could have full replacement coverage.

However, after 10 years the reimbursement amount would change. Your insurance would cover 70% for a metal roof, 40% for concrete or tile roofs and the same amount for wood shingles. All other roof types would be 25%.

“It would never go below that,” Boyd said. “The point is, year 11, you wouldn’t see a dramatic reduction in your coverage. It would stair step down based on the life expectancy of that roof.”

Boyd says it’ll eventually lead to lower rates.

“What’s the hope for a timeline for things to even out? Because it’s still going to be rough for the short term for a lot of people,” WESH 2’s Sheldon Dutes asked.

“Sadly, it will be, and I understand that, and sympathize very much with that. It will probably take a year or 18 months for rates to start to see the impact,” Boyd said.

“I think it could help to some degree, but I doubt it’s going to solve the problem. The problem isn’t with that, it’s with these fraudulent claims soliciting to get the insurance to pay for things they shouldn’t be paying for,” Pewsey said.

Pewsey is hopeful, though.

“It would be nice to see the rates come down. I’ve never seen it happen yet. I’ve seen them go up, up but very rarely, do they go down,” Pewsey said.

The House is working on a similar bill that could impact property insurance coverage. They’re set to vote on their version next week.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

A bill backed by the Florida insurance industry and other stakeholders aimed at addressing the state’s insurance market woes was passed in the Senate chamber this week but faces an uncertain future as the companion bill in the Florida House greatly differs from the Senate proposal.

Senate Bill 76, sponsored by Florida Senate Banking & Insurance Committee Chair Jim Boyd, also an insurance broker, was passed 27-13 by the full Senate Wednesday.

“We want to make certain that Floridians have access to property insurance that is both reliable and affordable. Right now we have a situation in our state where homeowners are paying more for their property insurance, and yet insurance companies are suffering massive losses,” said Boyd. “One of the biggest drivers of rate increases is the extraordinary number of roofing claims in Florida. This bill provides a needed update to roofing policies to both protect homeowners and prevent the abuse of claims by predatory attorneys and contractors.”

The bill allows property insurers to only offer homeowner’s policies that adjust roof claims to actual cash value if the roof is older than 10 years. The bill also allows property insurers to offer homeowners the option of purchasing a stated value limit for roof coverage. A homeowner that is offered such a policy would receive a disclosure that their insurance policy does not provide replacement cost coverage insurance for the roof. In a total loss of the primary structure, a reimbursement schedule and stated value sublimit do not apply and the insurer’s liability will be for the total amount of insured property as provided in the policy. The bill also creates a uniform 2-year period for filing a property insurance claim, supplemental claim, or reopened claim.

The bill also target excessive litigation facing insurers by requiring detailed notice of property insurance claims prior to litigation and changes how attorney fees are awarded. Before a lawsuit is filed, the insurer must be notified of the claim in detail and be given sufficient time to inspect the property before a lawsuit is filed.

Currently, an insurer must pay a reasonable attorney fee to the insured’s attorney, even if the insured only recovers a small amount in the litigation. Under this legislation the insurers’ obligation to pay the insured’s attorney fees will be directly related to how successful the insured was in recovering the amount demanded in the litigation. If the claimant recovers at least 80 percent, the insurance company must pay all reasonable attorney fees. If the claimant recovers 20% or more of the demand but less than 80%, the insurer will be required to pay the same percentage of fees related to the recovery that the claimant recovered in the action.

The bill also adopts the federal court standard for awarding attorney fee multipliers in claims arising under property insurance policies and directs courts to presume that the Lodestar fee is reasonable and provides that multipliers will only be awarded in rare and exceptional circumstances.

“This legislation ensures there is a clear understanding between homeowners and their insurance companies regarding when a roof replacement will be covered in full and establishes a clear and reasonable two-year time period for filing a claim,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson. “These reforms seek to reduce frivolous claims by those who take advantage of areas that were affected by hurricanes when claims spike at the end of the three-year claim window and often have no damage related to the hurricane.”

The bill’s companion, House Bill 305 was equal to SB 76, except for the requirement that claimants provide notice of intent to initiate litigation. However, the original version was substituted last month by the bill’s sponsor, Representative Bob Rommel, for a different version that “changed significantly” from when it was first introduced, Rommel told a House Committee in March.

The proposed committee substitute instead:

  • Places salary limits on Citizens’ employees.
  • Includes presuit notice requirements for all residential and commercial property suits not brought by an assignee, including written notice of intent to initiate litigation that specifies the amount of attorney fees and costs incurred by the claimant. The costs would be calculated by multiplying the number of hours a claimant’s attorney actually worked on the claim as of the date of the notice by a reasonable hourly rate.
  • Clarifies that the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has the same authority to examine MGAs that it has to examine insurers.
  • Establishes that insurers doing business in Florida must provide specific pieces of data regarding litigation of personal and residential property insurance claims to OIR on a quarterly basis.
  • Allows Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to raise rates a further 1% per year for the next five years, up to 15%, if OIR determines the financial need to raise rates.
  • Revises the eligibility for residential property owners to obtain coverage from Citizens so that they are not eligible for coverage from the residual market if a policy can be obtained from the private market that is less than 20% greater than the premium for comparable coverage from Citizens. The current amount is 15%.
  • Prohibits a court from awarding attorney fees to a claimant for services rendered if a suit is dismissed.

The amendment also adds several provisions targeting contractor schemes against homeowners and insurers.

Specifically, it would establish that contractors may not:

  • Solicit a residential homeowner to file an insurance claim;
  • Offer an incentive to a residential homeowner for allowing the inspection of the residential property owner’s roof or for making an insurance claim for roof damage;
  • Offer or accept any compensation or reward for referral of services for which property insurance proceeds are payable.
  • Interpret policy provisions, advise an insured about policy provisions, or adjust claims on behalf of an insured unless licensed as a public adjuster.
  • Provide an insured with an agreement authorizing repairs without providing a good faith estimate of the cost of the repairs.
  • Enter into a contract with a residential property owner to repair or replace a roof without including notice that the contractor is prohibited from engaging in certain acts.

The reduction of the claims filing deadline from three years is included in both HB 305 and SB 76.

House Bill 305 is now in Florida House Commerce Committee.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

Thu, April 8, 2021, 4:14 PM·3 min read

AM Best has downgraded the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (Long-Term ICR) to “bbb” from “bbb+” and affirmed the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of B++ (Good) of Tower Hill Prime Insurance Company (Tower Hill Prime) (Gainesville, FL). The outlook of the FSR has been revised to negative from stable, while the outlook of the Long-Term ICR is negative.

The Credit Ratings (ratings) reflect Tower Hill Prime’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as very strong, as well as its marginal operating performance, limited business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management (ERM).

The downgrade of Tower Hill Prime’s Long-Term ICR reflects further surplus erosion and ongoing difficulty in organically growing surplus through operations and continued challenges in adequately setting reserves. Reserves, which continue to develop adversely, are influenced partly by widespread social inflation in the company’s operating territory. Furthermore, Tower Hill Prime, as is typical of Florida property writers and their risk exposure, has elevated gross underwriting leverage reflective of its reinsurance programs. The company’s dependence on reinsurance adds another layer of concern amid the hardening reinsurance market. Tower Hill Prime has reported underwriting losses in each of the past five years whereby its cumulative loss position has been offset primarily by capital

contributions and the sale of its National Flood Insurance Program business. Consistent underwriting losses challenge the sustainability of the company’s current capital position.

Thu, April 8, 2021, 4:14 PM·3 min read

AM Best has downgraded the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (Long-Term ICR) to “bbb” from “bbb+” and affirmed the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of B++ (Good) of Tower Hill Prime Insurance Company (Tower Hill Prime) (Gainesville, FL). The outlook of the FSR has been revised to negative from stable, while the outlook of the Long-Term ICR is negative.

The Credit Ratings (ratings) reflect Tower Hill Prime’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as very strong, as well as its marginal operating performance, limited business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management (ERM).

The downgrade of Tower Hill Prime’s Long-Term ICR reflects further surplus erosion and ongoing difficulty in organically growing surplus through operations and continued challenges in adequately setting reserves. Reserves, which continue to develop adversely, are influenced partly by widespread social inflation in the company’s operating territory. Furthermore, Tower Hill Prime, as is typical of Florida property writers and their risk exposure, has elevated gross underwriting leverage reflective of its reinsurance programs. The company’s dependence on reinsurance adds another layer of concern amid the hardening reinsurance market. Tower Hill Prime has reported underwriting losses in each of the past five years whereby its cumulative loss position has been offset primarily by capital contributions and the sale of its National Flood Insurance Program business. Consistent underwriting losses challenge the sustainability of the company’s current capital position.- ADVERTISEMENT -https://s.yimg.com/rq/darla/4-6-0/html/r-sf-flx.html

In response to recent pressures, Tower Hill Prime has re-evaluated its risk appetite and communicated near-term plans to alter the book of business composition that is expected to generate a material reduction in accumulated exposure.

The negative outlooks reflect AM Best’s concern related to the effectiveness of current risk mitigation strategies as they relate to Tower Hill Prime’s ERM assessment. Tower Hill Prime faces several challenges ranging from severe hurricanes, more frequent lower level weather-related events and social inflation. As the market develops and patterns change, the analytical team will evaluate the company’s ERM program to ensure it appropriately addresses all areas of risk. Furthermore, the negative outlooks reflect pressure on the company’s operating

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

Life insurance coverage is an important type of insurance protection but not every American has a policy. In fact, according to research from PolicyGenius, just 54% of American adults have life insurance. This includes 27% who only have group coverage, which is provided by employers and often insufficient to provide full protection.

While many Americans need life insurance, some are reluctant to buy because finding a policy seems confusing and it’s not a fun subject to think about. Still, it’s important to get covered to ensure your loved ones are cared for.

Answering these four questions can help you decide if you should buy a policy and for what amount. You’ll also need to shop carefully to find the right insurance to meet your needs. Visit Credible to explore your life insurance options and find the protection your family deserves.

DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH LIFE INSURANCE COVERAGE?

1. What are the benefits of having life insurance?

The biggest benefit to buying life insurance is that you can provide for and protect the people you care about — even if you pass away.

Chances are, your spouse or other family members depend on you for something. This could be providing income, taking care of the house or providing care for aging parents or children.

If you pass away, life insurance provides the money to replace your income or to pay for the services you were performing. It’s intended to ensure the living standards of your loved ones don’t see a marked and permanent decline as a result of your death.

2. What does it cost to have?

The costs of life insurance vary depending on what kind of policy you buy, the age when you get coverage, your health status, the amount of insurance coverage you buy and what insurer provides your policy.

Term life coverage tends to be much more affordable than whole life coverage. And as for age, you’ll likely get a lower premium if you buy a policy when you’re younger. Your credit score also affects your insurance rates, with lower premiums being one of the many benefits of having a good score

To make sure you’re getting the best prices on a policy, visit Credible to explore life insurance pricing and find the right life insurance plan that fits your needs.

DOES YOUR CREDIT SCORE AFFECT YOUR INSURANCE RATES?

3. How much coverage is enough?

When shopping for life insurance, you have to decide how much protection to buy. Specifically, you’ll pick how large your death benefit should be. That’s the amount of money the insurer will pay to your chosen beneficiaries if you pass away while the coverage is in effect.

Policies can come with very small death benefits that are just enough to cover funeral costs. Or you could buy a plan that pays out $1 million or more if you pass on. Generally, financial experts recommend buying 10 to 15 times your annual income in coverage. If you make $50,000, you’d have a $500,000 to $750,000 policy.

To help assess all the options available to you, use the Credible marketplace to compare life insurance companies and shop their plans.

HOW TO CHECK IF YOUR CAR INSURANCE PAYMENT IS TOO MUCH

4. What kind of coverage do you have from work (if any?)

In many cases, employers provide life insurance as a workplace benefit. But just because you have coverage at work, don’t assume that’s all the protection you and your loved ones need.

Policies that employers provide often have a low death benefit. For example, your family may receive only $10,000 or $20,000 if you pass — well below the recommended 10 to 15 times your income.

Policies from employers also typically remain in effect only as long as you keep your job. They’re usually not portable so you can’t take them with you. This could be a problem if you leave your job because you will no longer have protection for your loved ones.

While you might be able to buy a policy from a private insurer after losing employer-provided coverage, doing so could be more expensive than if you’d purchased private coverage at a younger age. Or you may find that buying a policy is out of reach if you had pre-existing health problems at the time you left your job.

As a result, if you have a workplace plan, it’s a good idea to shop for additional coverage on your own.  And for those with no protection at all, buying coverage should be a top financial priority if your loved ones rely on you. 

Fortunately, it’s easy to compare quotes for life insurance coverage to make sure you get the right protection for a fair price.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

A significant number of homeowners could be overpaying for their home insurance because they bought a policy from their mortgage provider, instead of searching for the best deal.

Almost a third of homeowners have taken out an insurance policy through their mortgage provider at the time of their house purchase, according to research by Compare the Market.

When asked about their reason for this, 29 per cent of homeowners said it seemed the ‘easiest option’ at the time.

Although some did shop around for a better deal, nearly a fifth said they were penalised or charged a fee for buying a policy that was not from the mortgage lender.

Roughly one in ten felt pressured into taking an insurance policy to secure the mortgage, and 14 per cent felt forced by the lender to take out insurance with a specific provider.

However, 15 per cent of homeowners admitted to simply accepting the policy offered to them without shopping around for alternative options.

‘Although cross-selling rarely means you’ll end up with the best deal, many home buyers still take out insurance with their mortgage provider even though cheaper deals can be found elsewhere,’ said Chris King, head of home insurance at Compare The Market.

‘Some consider it the path of least resistance, but others feel pressured into doing so.

‘Buying a house is considered one of life’s most stressful and expensive events – and many homeowners are likely to choose the quickest and easiest route.’  

Are mortgage lenders really penalising borrowers over home insurance?

Mortgage lenders often offer insurance policies. However, a borrower should never feel obligated to agree to it, and there should not be any pressure on them to do so.

‘In branch, lenders might have targets around selling internal insurance policies, and this may be why people sometimes feel pressured,’ said Chris Sykes, mortgage consultant at Private Finance.

However, I’ve never heard anyone be penalised or charged any additional fees for not taking on insurance via the bank they are mortgaged through.

‘If people were being penalised then this would be something we as brokers would surely need to take into consideration when making a mortgage recommendation.’

Lenders including TSB and Nationwide have said that they do not place any pressure on borrowers to buy home insurance, nor impose any financial penalty for arranging insurance elsewhere.

‘Virtually all mortgage providers in the UK also offer a home insurance product.

‘This has historically been because it has been a condition of your mortgage agreement to have a buildings insurance policy in place,’ said Darren Black, head of general insurance at Nationwide Building Society.

‘Our home insurance is available through our mortgage consultants, however there is absolutely no expectation of purchase – in fact many of our mortgage members do hold their insurance with other providers. 

‘There is also no financial impact on the mortgage if the borrower gets their insurance elsewhere, and we don’t offer an incentive to take home Insurance with us as part of a mortgage application.’ 

How much could be saved by shopping around?

Those surveyed were paying an average of £418 for buildings and contents cover with their current provider.

It was also found that, on average, homeowners last decided to switch providers more than three and a half years ago, whilst over one in ten said they had never switched their home insurance provider. 

According to Compare the Market, the average annual cost of a buildings and contents insurance policy is £147 meaning there are considerable savings to be had by shopping around. 

King said: ‘Those who go with their mortgage provider’s recommendation and then renew with the same provider year after year, they could be paying far more than they need to.’

‘As our data shows, shopping around online could save a household more than a hundred pounds.

‘When many households are feeling the squeeze, this could be a good time to work out where you can cut costs by switching household bills.’

Buildings insurance covers the building itself should the home suffer damage, for example by fire or flood.

For leaseholders, this insurance is often covered within the service charge by the management agency, although it is always worth checking with your solicitor what areas of the building you are responsible for insuring.

Contents insurance helps cover the cost and damage of personal possessions and items such as TVs, laptops and furniture.

The Compare the Market research surveyed 2,000 homeowners.  

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

Buying a new home can be one of the most exciting milestones in your life, but it could also be costly to protect without homeowners insurance. Anything can happen in life, and home insurance could help provide the sense of relief you need to know that certain damages and losses are covered should disaster strike. However, you might not always know when to file a claim.

What events can be claimed on your homeowners insurance?

There are several circumstances in which a homeowner may need to file a claim. Generally, consulting your policy and speaking with your insurer to know which perils are covered is a good first step to take.

So what does homeowners insurance cover? Below are some of the most common sources of loss you may encounter.

COVERAGE TYPEDETAILSSTANDARD POLICYREQUIRES AN ADDITIONAL POLICY OR ENDORSEMENT
Theft & vandalismStandard home insurance includes protections in case your home or belongings are vandalized or stolen.
FireMany causes of house fires are generally covered, as specified in your policy.
Hail & windThe standard policy usually provides reasonable protections against hail and windstorms, but you may need additional coverage if you live in a high-risk area.
ExplosionIf there is an explosion in or around your home, the average policy covers any damages resulting from the initial blast.
Falling objectsThings like falling satellites, asteroids, meteors and space debris are all typically covered under the standard homeowners insurance policy.
FloodingFlooding is handled differently than water damage and often requires separate coverage.
HurricaneIf you live in a hurricane-prone area, you may need additional hurricane insurance to cover the risk of flooding and other damages not typically covered under the standard home insurance policy.
MoldMold is typically only covered if it is caused by a covered peril under your policy, so you may need to consider additional coverage if you live in an area or property that is prone to mold.

*This table should only be used as a guide as all policies are different and may or may not cover different perils.

Protections can vary depending on which provider and policy you choose. For example, coverage for water damage may be tricky and is often defined with certain limitations.

If you incur water damage from a broken pipe, you have to look at the policy documents to see if water damage is excluded or is limited, said Nicole Shacket, a litigation attorney at Insurance Litigation Group in Florida. Many policies limit water damage coverage to $10,000 per occurrence, but $20,000 per policy period if theres more than one claim in that policy period.

First-time homebuyers may also approach their policy differently given their specific needs.

To be safe, always review your policy in full and discuss any questions you may have with an agent before purchasing.

When to start the claims process

As soon as a loss occurs, you should consider contacting your insurance company. As there are claims processes to follow, usually the sooner you can initiate a claim, the earlier you may be able to resolve the issue.

Contact your insurer

Experts generally recommend not to waste time before filing a claim, as it could impact how smoothly the process goes. David Adler, president and owner of Adler Insurance Group an Allstate insurance agency in the Denver metro area added that taking time to verify your policys listed perils with your insurer could also be an important step.

Ask them if this specific loss is covered under your policy, Adler said. Get an understanding of your policy limits too and what your deductible costs will be. If your deductible costs more than the loss, it’s likely not worth filing a claim for.

Many of your potential questions about specific losses and what to file under your homeowners insurance can be answered by speaking directly with your provider.

Fill out claims form

After filing your claim, your insurance provider can usually send emergency mitigation. To do so, your insurance company may want to know several specific details on your claims form in order to send the right help. This generally includes:

  • Personal information
  • Policy number
  • Location of the loss
  • Date of the incident
  • Cause for the loss
  • Estimated loss amount

Most insurance experts also recommend submitting photographic and video evidence to support your claim whenever possible, as it could go a long way in providing proof for your claim.

Have your claim inspected

After your claim is submitted, the insurance company will usually send a claims adjuster to assess the situation and file an official report for claim approval. Espenschied of Insurance Brokers Group offered a friendly word of expert advice to homeowners at this stage.

If there was any damage done, make sure that the adjuster inspects the property with you present before writing up an estimate for damages, Espenscheid said. Once they leave, their only source of information is going to be whatever paperwork they have from you. If anything was missed during their inspection, it could cause problems later on down the line when trying to get reimbursed for those items missing from their report.

Help prevent further damage

While you are waiting for the situation to be resolved, you still have to manage your home in the meantime. Experts suggest that you try to minimize the damage wherever possible.

John Butkus, director of property claims for Country Financial, shared a few tips for homeowners to mitigate further damage. These include keeping the home tidy, boarding up shattered windows and covering holes with tarp. Butkus also recommended saving any receipts from basic repairs made, including the items purchased to complete them.

Shacket of Insurance Litigation Group recommended that homeowners keep copies of any signed documents. If you sign an agreement, work authorization or any type of document with a contractor, take a picture of the whole document with your phone, she said. Know what you signed, when you signed, with who and for what.

Schedule an appointment with an insurance adjuster

Within a few days, your insurance company will usually be in touch to schedule an appointment with its insurance adjuster. Adler advised having your contractor present for the adjusters inspection, as they might assist in voicing your concerns and give your claim the best chance of approval. In some instances, you may even want to hire a public adjuster.

Espenschied encourages his clients to make a list of any damaged items and dont be afraid to ask for a second opinion from an outside, independent appraiser.

Complete repairs

After an appointment with an insurance adjuster, you may need to wait for the claim payout checks from your insurance company so you can complete your repairs. Your payout may be issued via multiple partial payments, allowing you to work in stages as you make temporary repairs, replace your belongings and complete the more permanent repairs.

In the meantime, things may get costly if you incur other expenses, like moving out of your home. Fortunately, most homeowners policies include additional living expenses resulting from a covered loss, like for eating out or staying in a hotel. According to Butkus, some providers may even issue checks to policyholders on the spot.

Tips for filing a home insurance claim

There are a few things you can do to simplify the process of filing a home insurance claim, such as making all of the supporting evidence that you need for your home insurance claim.

  • Keep an ongoing home inventory: If you know what you own, it will be easier to replace if it is damaged. Keep an inventory of your belongings, including a brief description, when it was purchased and its value.
  • Keep evidence: Anything that you can provide to prove damage may be helpful to your insurance provider when filing a home insurance claim.
  • Store extra copies: Store your documented inventory away from the home where it is protected and will not be damaged in a loss. You could also track your belongings and store photo evidence through mobile apps.
  • Keep current photos: Many homeowners do not think to take photos until an actual incident occurs, but it could pay to be proactive.

Questions to ask before filing a claim

Sometimes, it may be difficult to determine whether filing a home insurance claim is the right decision. Adler shared some considerations that homeowners may want to make before beginning the process. These include assessing how many times you have filed a claim on your home and considering whether negligence was at play. Filing too many claims within a period of time could cause your insurer to increase your premiums or even nonrenew your policy. You may also want to consider if a loss resulted from poor maintenance upkeep, as it could impact your eligibility for a payout.

Other important questions to ask are whether or not the damage is significant and if your deductible outweighs repair costs. In the event of a smaller loss where you might pay more out of pocket than it would actually cost to restore the damage, it may not be worth filing a claim. But to be certain, you may consider speaking with your agent.

Terms to know when filing a home insurance claim

When filing a home insurance claim, there are some common terms and phrases that you may see frequently.

Homeowners insurance termDefinition
Actual cash value (ACV)Actual cash value is an items worth after depreciation.
Replacement cost value (RCV)Replacement cost value reimburses costs to repair or replace your home at current market value, excluding deductions for depreciation.
Insurance to valueInsurance to value refers to maintaining coverage amounts that match the value of your home as it changes.
Additional living expenses (ALE)Additional living expenses provide homeowners with financial reimbursement should their property become uninhabitable due to a covered loss.
AdjusterAn insurance adjuster is another term for the insurance claims agent for your home insurance company.
EndorsementAn endorsement is an addition, modification or update that is made to an original home insurance policy.
Market valueThe market value is the total price of your property based on the amount you paid for ownership and may be different than the value in which your home is insured.

What to do when your insurance claim is denied

Just because you file an insurance claim does not mean that it will be approved. Your insurance company will usually notify you of its decision on your insurance claim with a mailed letter of explanation.

You may not always be able to dispute a denied insurance claim, especially if the loss was not a named peril. If you feel the damage should be covered, you could file a formal appeal within a specified timeframe or consult a public adjuster for advice on next steps. However, there is no guarantee that the claim will be approved.

Frequently asked questions

Does filing a home insurance claim increase your premium?

Filing a home insurance claim may affect the cost of homeowner insurance, depending on the severity of the incident. Insurance providers may look to see how many other claims you have on your record when setting future premiums.

How long does an insurance claim stay on your record?

Insurance claims generally stay on your record for an average of three years. Some more severe claims may stay on your record for longer and some insurance carriers may look back at a longer claims history.

Protections can vary depending on which provider and policy you choose. For example, coverage for water damage may be tricky and is often defined with certain limitations.

If you incur water damage from a broken pipe, you have to look at the policy documents to see if water damage is excluded or is limited, said Nicole Shacket, a litigation attorney at Insurance Litigation Group in Florida. Many policies limit water damage coverage to $10,000 per occurrence, but $20,000 per policy period if theres more than one claim in that policy period.

First-time homebuyers may also approach their policy differently given their specific needs.

To be safe, always review your policy in full and discuss any questions you may have with an agent before purchasing.

When to start the claims process

As soon as a loss occurs, you should consider contacting your insurance company. As there are claims processes to follow, usually the sooner you can initiate a claim, the earlier you may be able to resolve the issue.

Contact your insurer

Experts generally recommend not to waste time before filing a claim, as it could impact how smoothly the process goes. David Adler, president and owner of Adler Insurance Group an Allstate insurance agency in the Denver metro area added that taking time to verify your policys listed perils with your insurer could also be an important step.

Ask them if this specific loss is covered under your policy, Adler said. Get an understanding of your policy limits too and what your deductible costs will be. If your deductible costs more than the loss, it’s likely not worth filing a claim for.

Many of your potential questions about specific losses and what to file under your homeowners insurance can be answered by speaking directly with your provider.

Fill out claims form

After filing your claim, your insurance provider can usually send emergency mitigation. To do so, your insurance company may want to know several specific details on your claims form in order to send the right help. This generally includes:

  • Personal information
  • Policy number
  • Location of the loss
  • Date of the incident
  • Cause for the loss
  • Estimated loss amount

Most insurance experts also recommend submitting photographic and video evidence to support your claim whenever possible, as it could go a long way in providing proof for your claim.

Have your claim inspected

After your claim is submitted, the insurance company will usually send a claims adjuster to assess the situation and file an official report for claim approval. Espenschied of Insurance Brokers Group offered a friendly word of expert advice to homeowners at this stage.

If there was any damage done, make sure that the adjuster inspects the property with you present before writing up an estimate for damages, Espenscheid said. Once they leave, their only source of information is going to be whatever paperwork they have from you. If anything was missed during their inspection, it could cause problems later on down the line when trying to get reimbursed for those items missing from their report.

Help prevent further damage

While you are waiting for the situation to be resolved, you still have to manage your home in the meantime. Experts suggest that you try to minimize the damage wherever possible.

John Butkus, director of property claims for Country Financial, shared a few tips for homeowners to mitigate further damage. These include keeping the home tidy, boarding up shattered windows and covering holes with tarp. Butkus also recommended saving any receipts from basic repairs made, including the items purchased to complete them

Complete repairs

After an appointment with an insurance adjuster, you may need to wait for the claim payout checks from your insurance company so you can complete your repairs. Your payout may be issued via multiple partial payments, allowing you to work in stages as you make temporary repairs, replace your belongings and complete the more permanent repairs.

In the meantime, things may get costly if you incur other expenses, like moving out of your home. Fortunately, most homeowners policies include additional living expenses resulting from a covered loss, like for eating out or staying in a hotel. According to Butkus, some providers may even issue checks to policyholders on the spot.

Tips for filing a home insurance claim

There are a few things you can do to simplify the process of filing a home insurance claim, such as making all of the supporting evidence that you need for your home insurance claim.

  • Keep an ongoing home inventory: If you know what you own, it will be easier to replace if it is damaged. Keep an inventory of your belongings, including a brief description, when it was purchased and its value.
  • Keep evidence: Anything that you can provide to prove damage may be helpful to your insurance provider when filing a home insurance claim.
  • Store extra copies: Store your documented inventory away from the home where it is protected and will not be damaged in a loss. You could also track your belongings and store photo evidence through mobile apps.
  • Keep current photos: Many homeowners do not think to take photos until an actual incident occurs, but it could pay to be proactive.

Questions to ask before filing a claim

Sometimes, it may be difficult to determine whether filing a home insurance claim is the right decision. Adler shared some considerations that homeowners may want to make before beginning the process. These include assessing how many times you have filed a claim on your home and considering whether negligence was at play. Filing too many claims within a period of time could cause your insurer to increase your premiums or even nonrenew your policy. You may also want to consider if a loss resulted from poor maintenance upkeep, as it could impact your eligibility for a payout.

Other important questions to ask are whether or not the damage is significant and if your deductible outweighs repair costs. In the event of a smaller loss where you might pay more out of pocket than it would actually cost to restore the damage, it may not be worth filing a claim. But to be certain, you may consider speaking with your agent.

Terms to know when filing a home insurance claim

When filing a home insurance claim, there are some common terms and phrases that you may see frequently.

Homeowners insurance termDefinition
Actual cash value (ACV)Actual cash value is an items worth after depreciation.
Replacement cost value (RCV)Replacement cost value reimburses costs to repair or replace your home at current market value, excluding deductions for depreciation.
Insurance to valueInsurance to value refers to maintaining coverage amounts that match the value of your home as it changes.
Additional living expenses (ALE)Additional living expenses provide homeowners with financial reimbursement should their property become uninhabitable due to a covered loss.
AdjusterAn insurance adjuster is another term for the insurance claims agent for your home insurance company.
EndorsementAn endorsement is an addition, modification or update that is made to an original home insurance policy.
Market valueThe market value is the total price of your property based on the amount you paid for ownership and may be different than the value in which your home is insured.

What to do when your insurance claim is denied

Just because you file an insurance claim does not mean that it will be approved. Your insurance company will usually notify you of its decision on your insurance claim with a mailed letter of explanation.

You may not always be able to dispute a denied insurance claim, especially if the loss was not a named peril. If you feel the damage should be covered, you could file a formal appeal within a specified timeframe or consult a public adjuster for advice on next steps. However, there is no guarantee that the claim will be approved.

Frequently asked questions

Does filing a home insurance claim increase your premium?

Filing a home insurance claim may affect the cost of homeowner insurance, depending on the severity of the incident. Insurance providers may look to see how many other claims you have on your record when setting future premiums.

How long does an insurance claim stay on your record?

Insurance claims generally stay on your record for an average of three years. Some more severe claims may stay on your record for longer and some insurance carriers may look back at a longer claims history.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

Hundreds of thousands of Americans will pay significantly more to insure their homes in coastal areas and flood zones under new rules released on Thursday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the first major update to its pricing system in half a century.

The agency said that, over the coming year, it will phase in a price-setting method that marks an epochal shift in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which was set up in 1968 to cover property in flood-prone areas.

New premiums will be based on a property’s value, risk of flooding and other factors, rather than simply on a property’s elevation in a flood zone. They will take effect on Oct. 1, 2021, for new policies and April 1, 2022, for the rest, FEMA said.

The NFIP currently provides $1.3 trillion in coverage through more than 5 million policies in the U.S., but has been losing money for years and is currently $20.5 billion in debt.

The new rules will mean hefty increases for expensive properties in wealthy coastal enclaves, said Jeremy Porter, head of research and development at First Street Foundation, a Brooklyn-New York based nonprofit that studies flood risk.

Current flood zone-based pricing was “basically a subsidy to people,” Porter said. Under FEMA’s new system, “pricing is based on your insurance risk.”

FEMA said it expects 4%, or more than 200,000 policies, will see significant premium increases, while about 1.15 million will see decreases, noting the change makes prices “more equitable.”

In a study released in February of flood-prone properties rather than policies, First Street determined that more than 4 million would face increases and the average premium in flood zones would be $7,895 a year.

The numbers in First Street’s study are higher than FEMA’s because only about 30% of flood-prone properties carry NFIP coverage, Porter noted.

The changes mark the first update to FEMA’s pricing methods in 50 years, and are based on updated technology and FEMA’s evolving knowledge of flood risk, the agency said. (Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure & Calle Financial. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com

PROPERTY 1.     RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY INSURANCE/CONTINGENCY RISK MULTIPLIER SB 76/HB 305 SB 76 by Senator Boyd was up on the Senate floor this week. The bill was heard on second reading and several amendments were filed on the bill. After all the amendments either failed or were withdrawn, the bill was placed on third reading. The bill revises the statutes that govern property insurance policies including attorney fees, roof coverage provisions, notice periods for bringing claims, alternative dispute resolution, lawsuits involving property insurance policies, consolidation of legal actions, and assignment agreements. Additionally, the bill establishes a third-degree felony for knowingly aiding or abetting an unlicensed person who transacts or engages in insurance activities without a license.  The bill eliminates the attorney fee multiplier unless it is a rare and exceptional case.  The bill amends the roof coverage provisions through the use of a roof surface reimbursement schedule to limit coverage in a personal lines residential property insurance policy. The roof surface reimbursement schedule must provide for full replacement coverage for any roof surfaces type less than 10 years old. For roofs 10 years old or older the reimbursement schedule is as follows:·      70 percent for a metal roof type;·      40 percent for a concrete tile and clay tile roof type;·      40 percent for a wood shake and wood shingle roof type;·      25 percent for all other roof types.

Additionally, the bill allows an insurer to offer a state value sublimit on roof coverage. The bill also amends current law to require that a claim, supplemental claim, or reopened claim under a property insurance policy must be provided to the insurer within 2 years of the date of loss. Other provisions in the bill include:·      Allowing an insurer to require mediation as a 1st party claimant or a 3rd party assignee.·      Creating a “Texas” style 1st party attorney fee reform.·      Requiring the consolidation of multiple residential actions involving the same property.·      Modifying the AOB law to conform with the new “Texas” attorney fee model.·      Requesting the Florida Supreme Court to require plaintiff and defense lawyers to disclose their attorneys fees. The House version of this bill, HB 305 by Representative Rommel, passed its first of three committees, the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee last week. The bill makes several changes including the following: ·      Residential Property Insurance Claims for Roof Damage – The bill establishes that a contractor or unlicensed person acting on behalf of the contractor may not solicit or incentivize the filing of a roof damage insurance claim by a residential property owner or interpret policy provisions. It also establishes that a public adjuster, a public adjuster apprentice, or unlicensed persons acting on their behalf may not incentivize the filing of a roof damage insurance claim by a residential property insurance owner.

·      Clarifies that OIR has the authority to examine MGAs, including affiliates of insurers, as it examines insurers, even if the MGA represents a single domestic insurer. It requires that each insurer paying an affiliate produce information about fees paid to the affiliate upon request by OIR. It also requires that all MGAs execute contracts with the insurers they do business with even if they are affiliates of the insurers.·      Establishes that each insurer or insurer group doing business in Florida shall file specific data regarding litigation of personal and commercial residential property insurance claims on a quarterly basis.·      The bill makes several changes to the operations of, and requirements for, Citizens, the state-run property insurer: 

  • Revising the eligibility for residential property owners to obtain coverage from Citizens so that they are not eligible for Citizens’ coverage if they can obtain coverage from private insurers that is less than 20 percent greater than the premium for comparable coverage from Citizens 
  • Establishing that if Citizens does not buy reinsurance to cover its projected 100-year probable maximum loss, it must still include the cost of such reinsurance in its rate calculations.
  • Establishing that no employees of Citizens may receive salaries in excess of 150 percent of the salary received by the head of OIR, with certain exceptions.

·      The bill changes the notice of claim deadlines in the Insurance Code so that notice of any property insurance claim must be provided to a property insurer within two years of the date of loss.·      The bill creates new statutory requirements for residential or commercial property suits that are not brought by an assignee, including a ten-day presuit notice and demand, after a determination of coverage, before bringing suit against an insurer. An insurer served with this notice must respond in writing within ten days by either making a settlement offer or requiring participation in an appraisal or alternative dispute resolution proceeding as provided for in the policy.

4.     CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE SB 1574SB 1574 by Senator Brandes passed its first of three committees, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, on March 16th and will be up next in Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government. The bill makes several changes to the statutes governing Citizens including:·      Requiring reasonable agent commission for policies placed in Citizens not to exceed the average of commissions paid in the preceding year by the 20 admitted insurers writing the greatest market share of property insurance in Florida. Given the recent Citizens Property Insurance Board discussion regarding the concept of removing all agent commissions to advance depopulation goals, Senator Brandes developed this language in response.·      Providing that eligible surplus lines insurers may participate in depopulation, take-out, or keep-out programs; and·      Authorizing information from underwriting files and confidential claims files to be released by Citizens to entities considering writing or underwriting risks insured by Citizens.·      Revising the method for determining the amounts of potential surcharges to be levied against policyholders; It has been a long-held belief by agent groups that commission levels should not be inserted into the statute in any context for various reasons, including the fact that what goes up can also go down. These groups are lobbying Citizens to not take any action to reduce agent commissions. There is no House companion for this bill.

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