by Tim Meenan, Lobbyist

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PROPERTY 1.     Insurer Accountability – HB7065/SB 7052By Rep. Duggan and Sen. Hutson Last week, the House filed their version of the Insurer Accountability Act, which was introduced as a committee bill by the Commerce Committee. We expect it to be heard it one more committee. The Senate bill should be heard in its last committee on April 20th or 25th. There are two big differences between the versions: the House version does not contain bad faith language (section 19 of the Senate Bill) and it does not do touch the Managing General Agent (“MGA”) statutes. We have been told that the House version is closer to the final product.    Regarding insurance coverage the proposed bill:·        Prohibits authorized and surplus lines insurers 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);·        Prohibits the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) from waiving its review of policy forms for 3 years for any insurer that has violated the Insurance Code;·        Provides that the prohibition on applying any other deductible under the policy if a roof deductible is applied encompasses any other loss to the property caused by the same covered peril.·        Tolls the time period for filing a property insurance claim during an insured’s active duty military service; and·        Clarifies legislative intent that Chapter 2022-271, Laws of Florida, passed during Special Session A in December 2023, (SB 2-A [2022] on Property Insurance) 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).·        Clarifies that the provisions of do not impair rights under policies in effect before the act’s effective date. Regarding rates charged for insurance, the proposed bill:·        Requires that property insurance and motor vehicle rate filings must include, and the OIR must consider in reviewing rates, the combined effect of recent legislative reforms;Appropriates $500,000 from the Insurance Regulatory Trust Fund for OIR to obtain an actuarial study to implement this requirement.·        Requires that property insurance mitigation discounts be updated at least every 5 years and insurers to provide consumer-friendly information on their website describing hurricane mitigation discounts available to policyholders; and·        Makes title insurance rates subject to OIR rate review. Regarding insurer claims handling, the proposed bill:·        Requires OIR to ensure liability insurers 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 insurers to annually submit their claims manuals to the OIR and attest that the manual comports to usual and customary industry claims handling practices, which is a concern given there is no separate bill creating a specific public records exemption; 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; andProhibiting payment of bonuses to officers and directors while an insurer is impaired or insolvent. Regarding regulatory oversight of insurers, the bill:·        Increases maximum administrative fines by 250 percent generally, and 500 percent for violations stemming from a state of emergency such as a hurricane.·        Requires insurers to more promptly respond to the Department of Financial Services (DFS) Division of Consumer Services and increases fines for noncompliance.·        Provides additional funding for the DFS Division of Consumer Services.Appropriates five positions with associated salary rate of 325,000 and the sum of $494,774 in recurring funds and $23,410 in non-recurring funds to the DFS from the Insurance Regulatory Trust Fund.·        Specifies objective criteria to be used by OIR to:Prioritize necessary financial and market conduct examinations.Determine when payments to affiliates are excessive.·        Provides conditions whereby the OIR must initiate a market conduct examination.·        Requires insurers to report to the OIR any temporary suspension of writing new policies.·        Applies the standard order that OIR issues to protect consumers after hurricanes to surplus lines insurers.·        Specifies that insurance fraud referrals may be made to the statewide prosecutor for crimes that impact two or more judicial circuits.·        Requires additional reporting from regulators regarding their enforcement actions. 2.     Condominium and Cooperative Associations – HB 1395/SB 154By Rep. Lopez and Senator Bradley This is a cleanup package for the Surfside bill that passed in special session last May. The House bill passed its second committee by a vote of 13-0 and is scheduled to be heard in its last committee on April 17th. The Senate bill passed the Senate by 40-0 and was immediately certified on 04/12. SB 154 is now in route for the House where it will be considered.SB 154 revises the milestone inspection requirements for condominium and cooperative buildings that are three or more stories in height to:·        Limit the milestone inspection requirements to buildings that include a residential condominium or cooperative;·        Provide that the milestone inspection requirements apply to buildings that in whole or in part are subject to the condominium or cooperative forms of ownership, such as mixed-use buildings;·        Clarify that all owners of a mixed-use building in which portions of the building are subject to the condominium or cooperative form of ownership are responsible for ensuring compliance and must share the costs of the inspection;·        Delete the 25-year milestone inspection requirements for buildings that are within three miles of the coastline;·        Authorize the local enforcement agencies that are responsible with enforcing the milestone inspection requirements the option to set a 25-year inspection requirement if justified by local environmental conditions, including proximity to seawater;·        Authorize the local enforcement agency to extend the inspection deadline for a building upon a petition showing good cause that the owner or owners of the building have entered a contract with an architect or engineer to perform the milestone inspection services and the milestone inspection cannot reasonably be completed before the deadline;·        Provide that the inspection services may be provided by a team of design professionals with an architect or engineer acting as a registered design professional in responsible charge; and·        Clarify that an association must distribute a copy of the summary of the inspection reports to unit owners within 30 days of its receipt. Requires the Florida Building Commission to establish by rule a building safety program to implement the milestone inspection requirements within the Florida Building Code. The commission must specify the minimum requirements for the commission’s building safety program by December 31, 2024, including inspection criteria, testing protocols, standardized inspection and reporting forms that are adaptable to an electronic format, and record maintenance requirements for the local authority having jurisdiction. Revises the requirement that all personal lines residential policies issued by the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation must include flood coverage to exempt condominium or cooperative units that are in certain flood-risk areas and above specified floors in a building. Clarifies that both the condominium or cooperative unit owner and any person authorized by any owner as his or her representative may inspect the official records of the association. The bill provides additional presale notice requirements in contracts for sales of a unit by a developer or nondeveloper. This provision is similar to current contract notices to unit owners obligated to furnish certain governing documents to the prospective buyer of a unit more than three days before closing for sales by a nondeveloper or 15 days before closing for sales by a developer. A contract that does not conform to these notice requirements is voidable at the option of the purchaser prior to closing. 3.     Collateral Protection Insurance on Real Property HB 793/SB 410By Rep. Fernandez-Barquin and Sen. Garcia (I) This is the first time this type of language has been introduced in Florida. The House and Senate bills have received three committees of reference. SB 410 is scheduled to heard in its second of three committees on April 18th. The House version has passed all of its committees and has been placed on the Calendar for its second reading. The bill creates a new section of law dealing with real property collateral protection insurance, also known as “forced-placed” insurance. The bill seeks to promote the public welfare by regulating collateral protection insurance on real property, create a legal framework which collateral protection insurance on real property may be written in the state, help maintain the separation between mortgage lenders or servicers, and insurers or insurance agents, and minimize the possibilities of unfair competitive practices in the sale, placement, solicitation, and negotiation of collateral protection insurance. The scope of the bill applies to insurers and insurance agents engaged in any transaction involving collateral protection insurance on real property and all collateral protection insurance written in connection with mortgaged real property, including manufactured and mobile homes. 4.     Insurance HB 505/SB 418By Rep. Berfield and Sen. Perry This bill has turned into the Insurance Omnibus bill for the 2023 Legislative Session. As usual for every session the House and Senate versions will move through the process picking up smaller industry specific language and turning the bill into a train. HB 505 is scheduled to be heard in the Commerce Committee, its last committee of reference on April 17th. SB 418 has passed all of its committees and will be heard on the floor on April 19. The Senate bill is ahead of the House version and has the following provisions: ·        Allows a residential property insurer’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.·        Provides that, in lieu of themselves, the Executive Director of the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, and the Director of the Division of Emergency Management, respectively, may appoint a designee to be a member of the Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology.·        Authorizes an insurer to file a personal lines residential property insurance rating plan that provides premium discounts, credits, and other rate differentials based on windstorm construction standards developed by an independent, not-for-profit, scientific research organization.·        Limits the requirement that an insurer provide a policyholder who has an automatic bank withdrawal agreement with the insurer with 15 days advance written notice of any increase in policy premiums. Instead, notice will only be required for premium increases that result in an increase in the automatic withdrawal of more than $10 from the previous withdrawal amount.·        Revises provisions regarding the delivery of a policy to a policyholder by expanding the type of policies authorized to be delivered by electronic transmission to include individual and group health insurance policies, including dental.·        Revises the mandated deductibles that must be offered for hurricane loss when issuing a personal lines residential property insurance policy. For policies with a dwelling limit of at least $1 million, the bill no longer requires the offer of the current mandated deductibles of 2 percent, 5 percent, and ten percent of the dwelling limit. Instead, the bill provides that an insurer may offer deductibles of up to:Ten percent, for a policy covering a risk with dwelling limits of at least $1 million, but less than $3 million;Fifteen percent, for a policy covering a risk with dwelling limits greater than $3 million.·        Revises the requirement that the waiver by a policyholder of windstorm coverage or contents coverage, must be in the policy holder’s own handwriting, by also allowing the waiver to be typed.·        Eliminates the requirement that a notice be stamped on the declarations page of limited coverage automobile policies. Such policies generally cover antique motor vehicles. 5.     Hurricane Protection for Condominium Association (Mitigation Credits)HB 395/SB 556 By Rep. Tuck and Sen. HooperLIKELY DEADBoth House and Senate bills have received three committee references. The Senate bill has cleared its second of three committees by a vote of 7-0. The House bill has not moved and technically may be dead for the session. Adds in the definition section of condominium a term “hurricane protection” which covers hurricane shutters, impact glass, code-compliant windows or doors and other code-compliant hurricane protection products in order to potentially earn insurance mitigation credits.  The bill allows for condominium associations to let members vote and by a simple majority require unit owners to install hurricane protection that complies with or exceeds the applicable building code.  6.     Residential Property Insurance Rates (Mitigation Credits)HB 799/SB 594 By Rep. Griffitts and Sen. Martin The House and Senate bills have received three committee references. HB 799 has passed its second of three committees by a vote of 13-0. SB 594 was placed onto its last committee’s agenda, Fiscal Policy, where it passed on 04/13. Both bills are in a position to pass.  The bill adds “wind uplift prevention” to a list of techniques that can be used to reduce property loss and potentially receive a discount, credit or other rate differentials on property insurance. The bill also fixes the flood coverage mandate for citizens’ policies for condominium owners. In addition the bill requests $750,000 for wind-loss mitigation study. 7.     Flood Zone Disclosures for Dwelling Units HB 1291/SB 716By Rep. Antone and Sen. StewartLIKELY DEADBoth the House and Senate versions have received three committees of reference. Neither of these bills has been heard in committee. Requires landlords or persons authorized to enter into rental agreements on behalf of landlords to make specified disclosures relating to flood zones before the commencement of a tenancy and reinform tenant if the flood zone changes.  8.      Flood Damage Prevention HB 859/SB 1018 (Mitigation Credits)By Rep. Basabe and Sen. TrumbullLIKELY DEADThe bill has three references in the House and Senate. The Senate bill passed its second committee by 9-0 and is now in Rules. The House bill still has not been heard in a committee.  The bill creates the “Flood Damage Prevention Act of 2023.” The bill seeks to allow the Florida Building Commission to develop certain mitigation strategies in rule to mitigate property damage and encourage continued investment in Florida.  9.     Resolution of Disputed Property Insurance Claims HB 1141/SB 1174By Rep. Gottlieb and Sen. PolskyLIKELY DEADThe bills received three references each in the House and Senate. The bills have not been heard and with the current climate in both House and Senate, I would expect this bill not to pass. The bill creates mandatory mediation for resolution of disputed property insurance claims. If agreed to by both parties, it allows for mediation to be conducted via telephone. Once mediation is invoked, the policyholder must, within 10 days, provide to the insurer any and all supporting documents and information that serve as the basis for the claim.  10. Natural Emergencies and Insurance Market Conduct HB 7057/SB250by Rep. Giallombardo and Sen. Martin The House finally filed a committee bill to match up to the senate bill, which will be heard in House Appropriations on April 17th. The Senate bill has passed the Senate by a vote of 39-0 and it is now in route for the House.  The bill:·        Requires the Division of Emergency Management (DEM) to post on its website a model debris removal contract for the benefit of local governments.·        Encourages local governments to create emergency financial plans in preparation for major natural disasters.·        Provides that counties and municipalities cannot prohibit a resident from placing a temporary residential structure on their property for up to 36 months following a natural emergency under certain circumstances.·        Authorizes local governments to create specialized building inspection teams following a natural disaster and encourages interlocal agreements for additional building inspection services during a state of emergency.·        Requires local governments to expedite the issuance of permits following a natural disaster.·        Increases the extension of certain building permits following a declaration of a state of emergency from 6 to 24 months and caps such extension at 48 months in the event of multiple natural emergencies.·        Prohibits counties and municipalities within the disaster declaration for Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole from increasing building fees until October 1, 2024.·        Allows registered contractors to engage in contracting for the types of work covered by their registration within areas for which a state of emergency has been declared.·        Prohibits counties and municipalities within the disaster declaration for Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole from adopting more restrictive or burdensome procedures to its comprehensive plan or land development regulations concerning review, approval, or issuance of a site plan, development permit, or development or der before October 1, 2024.·        Amends the Consultants’ Competitive Negotiation Act to allow for additional disaster-related construction projects relating to Hurricane Ian to utilize the “continuing contracts” provision through December 31, 2023.·        Provides clarification regarding abandoned vessels and their destruction.·        Directs DEM to administer a revolving loan program for local government hazard mitigation projects, and appropriates $1,000,000 in nonrecurring funds from the General Revenue Fund and $10,000 ,000 in nonrecurring funds from the Federal Grants Trust Fund for such activity. Such funds will be held in reserve, contingent upon FEMA approval and release by the Legislative Budget Commission.·        Extends the date for fire control districts to submit the statutorily-required performance reviews in the event of a natural disaster or a major hurricane.·        Makes the Local Government Emergency Bridge Loan Program a revolving program and makes funds available for local governments impacted by federally declared disasters until July 1, 2038. Additionally, the bill appropriates $50 million in nonrecurring funds from the General Revenue Fund to the program.·        While a provision related to Claims Manuals has been removed from the bill (but see SB7052 Insurer Accountability bill) there remains nearly $1 million dollars in funding for eight OIR positions with for hurricane related market conduct activity. AUTO 1.     Motor Vehicle Liability Policies – HB 57/SB 516 for Risk Retention GroupsRep. Truenow and Sen. DiCeglie The House version only received two committee stops and is now ready for the floor on April 18. The Senate version was referred to three committees. The Senate bill has one more committee to pass through, however the bill is receiving some opposition from national RRGs. The bill permits the owner or operator of a motor vehicle to provide proof of financial responsibility by obtaining an insurance policy from a risk retention group that: 1) has an “A” or higher rating for financial strength, and “VIII” or higher for financial size by the A.M. Best Company, and 2) only provides commercial coverage to its members and shareholders. The bill would permit an RRG to directly provide commercial auto insurance at a lower price to its Florida members. 2.     Motor Vehicle Insurance and Driver Licenses for Foster Youth SB 168By Sen. Garcia (I)LIKELY DEADNo House companion bill has been filed. Expands the “Keys to Independence” program by removing language in statute that restricts one of the eligibility paths to receive Keys support. Currently, youth and young adults who achieve eligibility for the Keys program via enrollment in postsecondary educational services and supports (PESS) must also have been in licensed care when he or she reached 18 years of age. The bill expands eligibility for the Keys program by removing the requirement for young adults who are eligible by enrollment in PESS to also have been in licensed care when turning 18 years of age. The Keys program is a state-funded normalcy support program designed to remove barriers to obtaining a driver license for foster and former foster youth. The program removes barriers to obtaining a driver license by young adults by paying, subject to available funding, the cost of driver education, licensure, other costs incidental to licensure, and motor vehicle insurance for certain populations. The change will allow approximately an additional 450 young adults to be eligible to participate in the Keys program. 3.     Electronic Motor Vehicle Registration Certificates SB 370By Sen. BrodeurLIKELY DEADThe Senate version has moved through the second of three committee stops. A House version has yet to be filed.  Authorizes acceptance of an electronic certificate of motor vehicle registration as documentation required to be in the possession of a motor vehicle’s operator or carried in the vehicle while the vehicle is being operated on the roads of this state. The bill provides that displaying an electronic registration certificate does not constitute consent for an officer or agent to access any other information on the electronic device, and the person who presents the device assumes liability for any resulting damage to the device. 4.     Motor Vehicle Insurance HB 429/SB 586By Rep. Alvarez and Sen. GrallLIKELY DEADThis is the PIP repeal bill for the 2023 Legislative Session. It has been filed by members of the legislature who are plaintiffs’ attorneys. The bill repeals Florida’s Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law and replaces it with a bodily injury liability system. In talks with leadership in the House, they have told us that PIP repeal is off the table or this session.  5.     Commercial Vehicle Insurance SB 434By Sen. WrightLIKELY DEADThe Senate bill has received three committees of reference and no House bill has been filed. We don’t expect this bill to be heard. The bill increases the liability coverage from $350,000 per occurrence to $700,000 per occurrence for commercial motor vehicles with a gross weight over 44,000 pounds.  6.     Towing Vehicles SB 438By Sen. RodriguezLIKELY DEADThe Senate bill has received three references and a House bill has yet to be filed. The bill has not been heard. This bill seeks to make tow operators whole when towing vehicles from a scene to an investigating agency’s storage facility by mandating that the agency collects the towing and storage cost from the owner of the vehicle before the agency releases the vehicle and if they fail to do so the agency must pay that amount to the tow operator within 5 days.  7.     Motor Vehicle Glass HB 541/SB1002 By Rep. Griffitts and Sen. StewartLIKELY TO PASSThis tort bill has received three committee references in the House. Both the House and Senate bills are ready for the floor. The Chief Financial Officer spoke in committee this week in support of the legislation. The bill creates s. 627.7290, F.S., to provide that:·        No person may require a claimant to use a particular company for motor vehicle windshield glass replacement, repair, or calibration services under a personal lines automobile insurance policy.·        An insurer or a person acting on the insurer’s behalf may provide an explanation of motor vehicle comprehensive coverage benefits and any applicable limit of liability to a claimant.·        An insurer must provide an actuarially sound discount to the insured if they offer a policy that contains a managed repair arrangement for the provision of windshield glass replacement, repair, or calibration services.·        Nothing in this section shall be construed to create a private cause of actionGENERAL INSURANCE 1.     Department of Financial Services HB 487/SB 1158By Rep. Salzman and Sen. DiCeglie The House version is scheduled to be heard in its final committee, House Commerce, on April 17th. There is a pending amendment for the 17th. The Senate version passed its second of three committees of reference, the Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government, by a vote of 13-0. The House staff removed several sections of the bill claiming they were not germane to the title of the bill.  This is an omnibus department package and includes the following:·        Workers compensation – changes jurisdiction of the three-member panel and reimbursement schedule;·        Guaranty funds: Makes changes to the board composition of FSIGA, FIGA, FLAHIGA and Medical Malpractice JUA. Contains conflict of interest voting rules. Allows CFO to remove a director for malfeasance.  The provision requiring term limits for board members was stricken from the bill in the last committee stop for all of the guaranty fund sections of the bill. The FIGA section requires that a majority of the board appointments be from domestic carriers.·        Changes fingerprint requirements for agent licensing exam centers;·        Exempts title, life insurance and annuity contracts from agency closure notification provisions.·        Agent examination is not required for Professional in Claims (PIC) from 2021 Training, LLC;·        Specifies elective continuing education courses for public adjusters may must be any course related to commercial and residential property coverages, claim adjusting practices, and any other adjuster elective courses;·        Strikes prohibitions on agents holding limited lines licenses for credit insurance for sales of motor vehicle physical damage and physical breakdown insurance, and combinations of other lines as well;·        Contains various public adjuster licensing updates;·        Revokes health insurance Navigator licenses where they fail to maintain a valid federal navigator registration;·        For property, casualty, except mortgage guaranty, surety, or marine insurance, other than motor vehicle insurance subject to s. 627.728 or s. 627.7281, reduces the period from 90 days to 60 days when such cancellation or termination occurs during the first 60 days during which the insurance is in force and the insurance is canceled or terminated for reasons other than nonpayment of premium, then at least 20 days’ written notice of cancellation or termination must be given accompanied by the reason why;·        Corrects a glitch for HB701 (2021 session) for Behavioral Health notification and disclosure requirements; (it is in a house amendment to add the language back into the bill, remains in Senate version.) ·        Prohibits a liability insurer is prohibited from denying coverage for property and bodily injury liability claims made against an insured for up to the property and bodily injury liability limits set in s. 324.021(9) solely based on the insured’s failure to cooperate with the insurer’s investigation — unless the insurer can clearly demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the insured’s lack of cooperation has resulted in actual prejudice to the insurer;·        Alternative Dispute Resolution: Would require an insurer is to make a claim determination or elect to repair pursuant to s. 627.70131 before participating in mediation.·        Imposes new restrictions against Collateral Protection insurance on a mortgaged property;·        Mediation of Claims: Increases the jurisdictional amount from $10,000 per claim to $50,000 per claim for personal injury or property damage claims related to a motor vehicle; insurers must bear all costs of the mediation, which must be reasonable; allows DFS to adopt rules for the program;·        FIGA: allows sharing of the insolvent insurers records with the prospective solvent assuming insurer for purposes of due diligence and allows transfer of the insolvent insurers book of business and policies; allows adjustment of cancellation date of policies by the receiver;·        Establishes a Direct Support Organization for the State Fire Marshal;·        Service Warranties: allows DFS to issue salesperson license for motor vehicle service agreement companies and insurers to nonresident applicant where there is reciprocity with the applicant’s home state; licensees charged with a felony may be immediately suspended; licenses must report actions against their license within 30 days of final administrative action;·        Bail bonds: revises agency licensing requirements. 2.      SEE description of SB 7052/HB7065 Insurer AccountabilitySee summary in Property section of this report. This is the Senate’s response to manufactured criticism that big insurance companies are being bailed out and after couple of high profile news articles on insurance companies low balling claims following Hurricane Ian. The bill applies to all lines, although its heavily focused on property insurance.  3.     Firearm Liability Insurance SB 1024By Sen. StewartLIKELY DEAD It’s very unlikely that this bill will ever be heard in a committee. It received three committees of reference in the Senate and does not have a House sponsor.  The bill defines the terms “purchaser” and “qualified liability insurance policy.” A qualified liability insurance policy must provide such coverage in the amounts of at least $25,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of the discharge of the firearm and $10,000 in liability coverage for property damage resulting from the discharge of the firearm. Set guidelines for selling and transferring firearms and requires the Department of Law Enforcement to adopt a form by rule.  There is no House companion measure. TORT REFORM 1.     Asbestos and Silica Claims HB 755/SB 1260By Rep. Fabricio and Sen. Trumbull The House bill received two committees of reference and the Senate version received three committees of reference. The House bill passed its first committee by a vote of 12-5 and is now in its last committee, the Judiciary Committee. The Senate bill has also passed its first committee by a vote of 11-0, and is now in the Commerce and Tourism Committee. We expect the bill to be on the April 19th House Judiciary agenda.  This bill seeks to codify current Florida case law on Bare Metal Defense and secondly seeks to crack down on over-naming of defendants by requiring the plaintiff’s attorney within 30 after filing an asbestos or silica claim to provide a simple nexus of why the defendant was named. If the plaintiff’s attorney does not provide the documentation, the claim upon motion to the court shall be dismissed without prejudice.  2.     Civil Remedies HB 837/SB 236By Rep. Fabricio and Gregory and Sen. HutsonSigned by the Governor  This is the main tort bill for the 2023 legislative session. It was signed by the Governor on March 24, 2023. The bill makes the following changes to Florida’s civil justice system:·        Changes Florida’s comparative negligence system from a “pure” comparative negligence system to a “modified” comparative negligence system, so that a plaintiff who is more at fault for his or her own injuries than the defendant may not recover damages from the defendant.·        Provides uniform standards to assist juries in calculating the accurate value of medical damages in personal injury or wrongful death actions.·        Modifies Florida’s “bad faith” framework to:Allow an insurer to avoid third-party bad faith liability if the insurer tenders the lesser of the policy limits or the amount demanded by the claimant before a complaint is filed, or within 120 days after service of the complaint.Clarify that negligence alone is not enough to demonstrate bad faith.Require a claimant to act in good faith with respect to furnishing information, making demands, setting deadlines, and attempting to settle the insurance claim.Allow an insurer, when there are multiple claimants in a single action, to limit the insurer’s bad faith liability by paying the total amount of the policy limits at the outset.·        Provides that a contingency fee multiplier for an attorney fee award is appropriate only in a rare and exceptional circumstance, adopting the federal standard.·        Repeals Florida’s one-way attorney fee provisions for insurance cases.·        Requires the trier of fact in certain negligent security actions to consider the fault of all persons who contributed to the injury.·        Reduces the statute of limitations for general negligence cases from 4 years to 2 years. 3.     Advertising for Legal Services HB 1205/SB 1246By Rep. Andrade and Sen. Yarborough This is another tort priority being pushed by the Florida Justice Reform Institute. It has received three committee references in each chamber. The House version is awaiting hearing in its last committee, Judiciary. The Senate version passed its first two committees, and is headed to its final stop, the Rules Committee, on April 19. Requires advertisements for legal services relating to injuries from medications or medical devices to include specified statements and information:·        This is a paid advertisement for legal services.·        Consult your physician before making decisions regarding prescribed medication or medical treatment. Prohibits protected health information from being sold, transferred, disclosed, used, or obtained for certain purposes without certain written authorization.Provides that certain violations are deceptive and unfair trade practices and violators are subject to the penalties and enforcement under Ch. 501. 4.     Causes of Action Based on Improvements to Real Property (Construction Defect)HB 85 by Rep. Snyder and SB 360 Sen. HutsonSigned by the Governor (Chapter No. 2023-22)      HB 85/SB 360 amends s. 95.11, F.S., to modify the time periods within which a construction defect cause of action must be brought.Specifically, the bill:· Changes the point from which the four-year statute of limitations begins to run for patent defects to the date of the earliest of the:Issuance of a temporary certificate of occupancy;Issuance of a certificate of occupancy;Issuance of a certificate of completion; orConstruction’s abandonment, if not completed.· Decreases the statute of repose from ten years to seven years, running from the date of the earliest of the:Issuance of a temporary certificate of occupancy;Issuance of a certificate of occupancy;Issuance of a certificate of completion; orConstruction’s abandonment, if not completed.The bill also:· Specifies that each dwelling unit within a “multi-dwelling building” must be considered its own improvement for purposes of determining the limitations period, consistent with the reasoning of the Fifth DCA in the Sabal Chase case, described above.· Provides that these amendments apply to any construction defect cause of action commenced on or after the bill’s effective date, regardless of when the cause of action accrued, except that any such action that would not have been time-barred before these amendments must be commenced on or before July 1, 2024. Finally, the bill amends s. 553.84, F.S., to limit the cause of action for a Building Code violation to a cause of action for a “material” Building Code violation, defined by the bill as a Building Code violation “that exists within a completed building, structure, or facility which may reasonably result, or has resulted, in physical harm to a person or significant damage to the performance of a building or its systems.” This limitation would apply even where the person responsible for a “non-material” Building Code violation knew or should have known that the violation existed and failed to repair it. WORKERS’ COMPENSATION 1.     Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder – HB 337/SB 352By Rep. McFarland and Sen. BurgessLIKELY DEADThe House bill received four committee references. The House version has passed three of its four committees. The Senate version has not progressed since its introduction on the 7th of March. The bill allows posttraumatic stress disorder suffered by 911 public safety telecommunicators or crime scene investigators to be a compensable occupational disease. Provides requirements for benefits offered to 911 public safety telecommunicators or crime scene investigators for posttraumatic stress disorder and specifies when claim for posttraumatic stress disorder must be noticed. OTHER (Non-insurance) 1.     Government and Corporate Activism (ESG)– HB 3/SB 302By Rep. Rommel and Sen. GrallLikely to PassThis bill is a Speaker/President/Governor/CFO priority. HB 3 passed the floor of the House on March 24th, by a vote of 80-31. HB 3 was placed in Messages and was received in the Senate on 03/27 where it was referred to the Fiscal Policy Committee. The Senate bill has cleared all its committees and will be taken up on the floor calendar on April 18th.  Revises current law regarding the investment criteria for the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and his office by stating he/she can only use pecuniary factors when making investment decisions. The bill defines pecuniary factors as:The term “pecuniary factor” means a factor that the plan administrator, named fiduciary, board, or board of trustees prudently determines is expected to have a material effect on the risk or returns of an investment based on appropriate investment horizons consistent with the investment objectives and funding policy of the retirement system or plan. The term does not include the consideration or furtherance of any social, political, or ideological interests. Significant portions of the bill affect state and local bonds, local government investing, purchasing, and contracting and empowers the state attorney general to enforce the bill. Adds provisions to the definition of a “Qualified Public Depository” that stat no one can be discriminated against for a plethora of issues including but not limited to ownership of a firearm, support in combatting illegal immigration or human trafficking, engagement in fossil fuel-energy, etc. And beginning July 1, 2023, banks must attest to the CFO that they are in compliance with this new law.  2.     State Board of Administration(“ESG”) – HB 1139/SB 110By Sen. Hooper The Senate bill has passed all of its committees and is ready for a floor vote. The House version is awaiting hearing in its last committee, State Affairs. This bill seeks to codify in statute actions taken by the State Board of Administration (SBA) during an August 23, 2022, Cabinet meeting that reiterated the fiduciary responsibility of the SBA and it may not sacrifice investment return or take on additional investment risk to promote any non-pecuniary factors. Both bills were amended in their respective first committees to eliminate the ESG language. It is now merely an SBA housekeeping bill.  The ESG issue is tackled in another bill, HB3. 3.     Telephone Solicitation – HB 761/SB1308Rep. Fabricio and Sen. Yarborough The House and Senate versions received three committee references. HB 761 passed its second of three committees, and its last committee, the Commerce Committee held that it was favorable with a committee substitute by a vote of 16-1. The Senate version was placed on the Commerce and Tourism Committee’s agenda where it was deemed favorable by a vote of 9-0 with a committee substitute. The Senate President removed a committee reference and has placed the bill in Senate Rules, which will be its last committee before the floor. The bill:·        Revises the prohibition on telephonic sales calls that use an automated system to specifically include unsolicited calls using automated systems for the selection and dialing of telephone numbers or playing of a recorded message.·        Clarifies what constitutes consent and clear and conspicuous disclosure.·        Revises what constitutes a consumer’s “signature” for purposes of giving prior express written consent to include either an electronic or digital signature or an “act demonstrating consent,” which may include a simple affirmative response.·      Provides a safe harbor period of 15 days from the date a consumer notifies the telephone solicitor that he or she does not want to receive text message solicitations.The bill states that the changes to the statutory sections are remedial in nature and apply retroactively to July 1, 2021, and to any proceeding pending or commenced on or after July 1, 2021. 4.     Public Financing of Potentially At-risk Structures and Infrastructure – HB 111/SB 1170By Rep. Hunschofsky and Sen. CalatayudLIKELY TO PASSHB 111 passed all three of its committees of reference and on 04/10 it was placed onto the Calendar for its second reading. The Senate bill is currently in its second of three committees, the Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government, where it was deemed favorable with a committee substitute by a vote of 13-0. The bill seeks to expand the studies for public financing of construction projects from the coastal building zone to “areas at risk due to sea level rise.” This newly defined area will apply to structures within the 50 year National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) intermediate-high sea level rise projections. A defined threshold established by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection by rule, in coordination with the Florida Department of Transportation and water management districts, for a potentially at-risk structure or infrastructure where replacement cost is not an appropriate metric, such as roadways. The threshold must be established by July 1, 2024. 5.     Medical Treatment of Animals via Telehealth  HB 1117/SB 1600By Rep. Buchanan and Sen. IngogliaLIKELY DEADThe House version passed the chamber 109-0.  The Senate version has not progressed since its introduction. We expect the bill to receive a hearing in at least one committee but not pass, as the ability to prescribe a controlled substance will probably weigh the bill down. The bill allows for veterinarian telemedicine and creates a gives a veterinarian practicing telemedicine to order, prescribe, or make available specified medicinal drugs and controlled substances. The bill also makes minor changes in scope of work when performing rabies vaccinations.   6.     My Safe Florida Home Program HB 881/SB 748By Rep. LaMarca and Sen. Boyd This is a glitch cleanup bill from a for Senate Bill 2D passed May of 2022. The bill has received three committees of reference in the House and Senate, and we would expect this bill to pass with no opposition. The House bill passed its final committee on March 27th and was placed onto the House Calendar for its second reading. The Senate bill was held is awaiting hearing in its last committee, Fiscal Policy. Expands the coverage of the My Safe Florida Home Program to include townhouses. Cleans up previous language of who can perform the hurricane mitigation inspection, clarifies the inspection can only be for homesteaded properties, removed upgrading roof covering from code to code plus for eligibility for grants and increase the grant amount for low-income homeowners from $5,000 to $10,000.    7.     Consumer Protection HB 1185/SB 1398By Rep. Giallombardo and Sen. DiCeglie Both bills have passed their first committee with strike-all amendments. This is the Department of Financial Services Consumer Protection Package. This bill would adopt the NAIC Best Interest Standard for annuity sales, including incorporating the 3 disclosure forms from the model regulation. These forms would supersede Florida’s previous version of the disclosure form. In addition, we are working with FAIA to remove a provision from this bill which reduces from 30 down to 5 days the time frame for notifying the DFS of an address, phone, or email address change for an agent or agency. That’s not enough time. The House bill received two committees of reference and is on the Commerce Committee on April 18. The Senate version received three committees of reference, and is on the agenda in the Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government on April 18. The bill also contains service warranty language as well as new restrictions on public adjusters signing up policyholders after natural disasters. PRIVACY 1.     Technology Transparency HB 1547/SB 262By Rep. McFarland and Sen Bradley Both House and Senate bills have received three committee references. The House version passed its first committee by a vote of 15-0. The Senate bill was deemed favorable by its first committee with committee substitute by a vote of 9-0. The Senate President removed a committee reference placing the bill in Senate Rules, which is its last committee. The House Speaker also removed a reference from the bill placing it in its last committee, House Commerce.These bills contain exceptions for HIPAA & GLBA and do not contain a private right of action. SB 262 is on the Senate Commerce committee agenda on April 4th. The House bill was held favorable with Committee Substitute by the Regulatory Reform and Economic Development Subcommittee.Business groups have raised concerns regarding potential advertising restrictions. While the bill contains an opt-out provision for targeted advertising, it could result in more ads targeting consumers seeking their attention while offering less value.  The legislation could take targeted advertising out of the small business owner’s toolbox. This bill is a priority of Governor DeSantis.