Citizens Insurance


Please call us at our new contact phone number 954-735-5500 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood,  Business & Commercial, & life & Financial products as well. My new e-mail is lee.gorodetsky@acentria.com and my new title is the VP of personal lines marketing.

The 2017 hurricane season begins June 1, yet the Atlantic Ocean already has produced Tropical Storm Arlene, which was only the second named storm on record to have formed in April. Citizens urges you to prepare for this year’s hurricane season and provides the following information to assist you and your staff in preparing.

 

14-17 named storms are expected and 7-9 could become hurricanes as well as 3 major Hurricanes. 2-3 could possibly have a US landfall so please be prepared!!

Storm Watch/Warning Issuance Changes
Due to advances in forecasting, beginning in 2017, the National Weather Service (NWS) may issue advisories, watches and warnings for weather disturbances that are not yet a tropical cyclone but pose a threat of bringing tropical storm or hurricane conditions to land areas within 48 hours. Previously, NWS was not permitted to issue watches and/or warnings until after a tropical cyclone officially had formed.

Customer Outreach Citizens has the following brochures for your Citizens policyholders:

Please call   Gateway/ Acentria Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Business & Commercial & Life & Disability as well as group Benefits. I am the Home Insurance Guru now the VP of personal Lines marketing at Acentria Insurance.

 

VIII. Private Flood Insurance Bill (HB 813)

 

HB 813 mandates that the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Prevention Methodology revise hurricane loss prevention models every four years. Current law requires that an agent notify the insured that if they choose to leave the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and later return, they will pay the full-risk rate, not the NFIP-subsidized rate. Additionally, the agent must obtain a signed disclosure from the insured acknowledging such; current law requires the agent provide written notice to be signed by the applicant upon receiving the application to obtain private flood coverage. The new language allows the agent more flexibility by requiring the agent provide the signed notice at any point before the agent actually places flood coverage with a private insurer. However, the agent may avoid obtaining the acknowledgment if the NFIP allows insureds, at some point in the future, to return to the program at any time and still obtain the subsidized rate.

 

 The bill extends the sunset for insurers not having to get private flood rates approved from October 1, 2019 to October 1, 2025. The bill also extends from 2017 to 2019 an exemption from the diligent effort search requirement for surplus lines insurers. Also, if fewer than three admitted insurers are writing flood on July 1, 2019 when the diligent search exception expires, the agent may only obtain a number of declinations that meet the number of admitted insurers providing coverage. For example, if only one flood insurer is writing private coverage, only one declination will be required.

LEGISLATION THAT FAILED THIS SESSION:

III. Assignment of Benefits (HB 1421)

 

There were a number of variations of legislation and amendments to rectify the AOB abuse epidemic throughout Florida. Unfortunately, no good AOB measure was able to succeed. However, we were successful in fighting off measures by the trial bar that would have enhanced the already prevalent AOB abuse.

 

There were two main vehicles addressing AOB. HB 1421 by Representative Grant, and SB 1218 by Senator Farmer. The House bill was the preferred vehicle for insurers, whereas the Senate bill was a trial-bar friendly initiative. The House bill would have required disclosures be provided to the insureds before entering into an AOB. It also would have moved to a “loser pays” attorney fee system. The House legislation provided the insured with an opportunity to rescind the assignment within 7 days of entering into the contract with the vendor. Further, the bill increased consumer protections and required vendors to provide written estimates of the work to be completed and required the assignee to notify the insurer of the assignment within 3 days of it being executed.

 

The Senate bill was amended a number of times and ultimately was not heard in its final committee. Generally, the Senate measure neglected to change the current attorney fee law for vendors, essentially endorsing the notion that vendors under AOB assignments are eligible to receive unlimited attorney fees. The Senate bill was extremely unfriendly to insurers and did not contain any attorney fee language. It required insurers to eliminate the costs of attorney gees on cases in which they lose a claim case in litigation from being part of the base rate and would have, essentially, ended the ability to utilize a managed repair program or ability to invoke the right to repair on a particular claim.   ( Welcome to Higher Home Insurance premiums)

IV. Workers Compensation

 

HB 7085 addresses the recent decisions declaring some components of Florida’s Workers Compensation law unconstitutional. The bill would permit direct payments of attorneys by or on behalf of claimants and increases the total combined temporary wage replacement benefits (TTD/TPD) from 104 weeks to 260 weeks. It also allows a Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) to award an hourly fee that departs from the statutory percentage based attorney fee limitation of $1500 under certain situations. Among several other components, HB 7085 also permits insurers to uniformly reduce premiums by no more than 5% if they file an informational-only notice within 30 days. Insurance industry representatives believe that the ability of a judge to award additional attorneys’ fees above the standard fee of $1,500 makes this bill less than ideal, and likely means that litigation will continue to expand causing rates to increase.

 

SB 1582 requires insurance carriers to authorize or decline requests for 

authorization from health care providers within a three-day period and provides that a request is deemed to be authorized if the carrier fails to respond. Like the House bill, the Senate bill increases the temporary partial disability benefits from 104 weeks to 260 weeks, in compliance with the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg. SB 1582 eliminates the statutory fee schedule of $1,500 for setting claimant attorney’s fees but allows the judge to consider certain factors and permit deviation from the attorney fee schedule. 

 

 

The two bills remained different between chambers through the end of session. The House sought to curb attorney’s fees and was more industry friendly than the Senate bill, which was seen as friendlier to the trial bar.

 

By Timothy J. Meenan, NAIFA-Florida Lobbyist

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

 

 

Today officially marks day 50 of the regularly scheduled 60-day legislative session. The 50th day marks the last day for regularly scheduled Senate committee hearings by rule; the House does not have the same rule, but has historically followed the same timeline. There has been much discussion regarding when the chambers would begin the budget process, but they have not entered budget conference at this point. The House and Senate seem to remain at odds regarding the budget, which could shape the timeline of the rest of session.

AOB Reform SB 1038 (Hukill); HB 1421 (Grant); SB 1218 (Farmer) The House Commerce committee approved a committee substitute for HB 1421 last week. The CS was heard on second reading this morning on the floor. Representative Jenne attempted to add on a rate rollback amendment, but was unsuccessful. We anticipate the bill will be heard on final passage in the House and be sent to the Senate this week. The CS does the following: A. Makes assignments invalid if they don’t comply with the new requirements. B. Requires assignments to be in writing and executed by an insured and the assignee. C. Allows a rescission of the AOB by the insured for any reason within 7 days of the insured having executed the assignment. D. Requires the assignment to be sent to the insurance company within 3 business days after the date the assignment is executed or work has begun, whichever is earlier. E. Requires assignments to include a written cost estimate for the work to be performed. Requires work done by water remediation companies to be certified in a class approved by the American National Standards Institute. F. Contain a notice to the consumer that the AOB might result in litigation, and explaining the right to rescind in 7 days. G. Assignments cannot contain mortgage or check processing fees, penalties for rescission, or other administrative fees. H. Requires the assignee to prove that the insurer is not prejudiced if the assignee fails to maintain records of all services, cooperate with the insurer in the investigation of the claim, and providing the insurer with all requested records, or failed to deliver the new assignment within 3 business days. I. Assignees must provide additional updates on supplemental repairs as they are required. J. Assignees must perform the work in conformance with accepted industry standards. K. Assignees cannot seek payment for amounts denied from the insurer from the insured. L. Assignees must submit to EUO’s, participate in insurer required appraisal or alternative dispute resolution methods required in the policy. M. Assignments do not interfere with any managed repair requirements in law or the policy. N. Assignees must provide a written notice of intent to initiate litigation 10 days before filing suit, and include a specific pre-suit settlement demand, including a detailed written invoice and estimate including all labor and materials, etc. O. Insurers must respond to the 10-day notice of intent to initiate litigation within 10 days by making a pre-suit settlement offer. P. If the difference between the judgment obtained and the difference between the pre-suit demand, and the pre-suit offer is less than 25%, the insurer is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney fees. If the difference is at least 25 percent, but less than 50 percent, no party gets attorney fees. If the difference is greater than 50 percent, the assignee gets attorney fees. In calculating this requirement, the judgment cannot include interest, attorney fees, or costs, and only includes the damages recovered. Q. If an insurer fails to inspect the property, or provide written or verbal authorization for the repairs within 7 days of the first notice of loss, the insurer waives the right to an award of attorney fees. This section is waived if a claim is the result of an event where the governor declares a state of emergency. R. Starting in January 2020, and each year thereafter, the OIR must do a data call requesting AOB claims. Data includes data about claims adjustment and settlement timeframes, procedures, trends, litigated versus non-litigated loss adjustment expenses, and amount and type of attorney fees incurred or paid. S. Policies may not prohibit the post loss assignment of benefits. Industry input, including Citizens Property Insurance Corporation and the major homeowners’ insurers are that this bill is a good faith attempt to fix the problem, and appears to have the support of the majority of insurers. The plaintiffs’ bar absolutely hates the bill and is attacking it, so that tells you something. The senate bill, which is SB 1218 filed by Senator Farmer, is extremely unfriendly to insurers, does not contain any attorney fee reform language, requires insurers to eliminate the costs of attorney fees on cases they lose from being a part of the base rate, and essentially ends the ability to utilize a managed repair program or to invoke the right to repair on a particular claim. The Senate bill supported by the industry, SB 1038 by Senators Hukill and Passidomo, was not given a hearing in Senate Banking and Insurance, its first committee of reference. We do not believe the Senate will take the house bill, but we are working with the Governor to see if we can get this bill heard on the full senate Floor, where we might have a chance, with the Governors help, to get 21 votes.

Flood Insurance SB 420 (Brandes); HB 813 (Lee) SB 420 and HB 813 mandate that the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Prevention Methodology to revise hurricane loss prevention models every four years. The House and Senate bills differ in two respects. First, the House bill requires a surplus lines insurer to be rated by A.M. Best in order to be eligible to write flood policies without a diligent effort and the Senate bill requires a rating from any rating agency acceptable to the OIR. Second, the House bill allows flood insurance policies to be exported to the surplus lines market without a diligent effort only until July 1, 2025 and the Senate bill allows this for an indefinite period. HB 813 has one remaining committee stop, Commerce, before it can head to the floor. The Senate bill was heard by the Senate Community Affairs Committee and passed with a committee substitute. Senator Brandes filed an amendment the night before the bill was to be heard by the Rules Committee. The amendment would require certain National Flood Insurance Program disclosures be provided to and acknowledged in writing by the applicant within 21 days after the NFIP policy expires, and eliminates the requirement altogether if Congress ends the practice of requiring a consumer be charged the full risk rate if they leave the NFIP, and thereafter attempt to re-enter the NFIP. SB 420 was passed out of the Rules Committee and placed on the calendar for second reading. The House bill is slated to be heard today on second reading by the full House.

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

Please watch this video and read the story to see how much money Insurance could cost you.!

http://www.abcactionnews.com/money/consumer/taking-action-for-you/assignment-of-benefits-abuse-driving-up-cost-of-home-car-insurance-in-florida

 

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

Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will post a net loss for 2016, its first loss in more than a decade, as water loss claims, assignment of benefit (AOB) abuse and litigation costs increasingly impact the company’s bottom line, according to a statement from the Florida state-run insurer.

The Citizens Board of Governors was told Wednesday the state’s insurer of last resort will post a $27.1 million net loss for 2016, its first since 2005. The company said the loss comes despite minimal damage from H

Without significant statutory reforms, Citizens will be forced to pass those higher costs on to its customers in the form of higher rates for the foreseeable future, said Citizens Board of Governors Chairman Chris Gardner.

“Every year, we rely on standardized, accepted actuarial principles to set our rates,” Gardner said “Last year, the same principles that provided rate decreases to our customers in recent years translated into hikes for 84 percent of our policyholders. Without legislative changes, that trend will continue.”

hurricane Matthew, the first major hurricane to impact Florida in 11 years

Please enjoy the full article below;

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/03/29/446071.htm

 

This will affect Fort Lauderdale &  S. Florida and since we are in La Nina years, which is also very likely to occur for the next 3-5 years. Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Business & Commercial policies and Life & Financial products as well.

Ratings company Demotech is holding off on issuing large-scale ratings downgrades of Florida property insurers for now, after a number of insurers heeded its warning of last month about the effects of assignment of benefits abuse and state court rulings by boosting their claims reserves and policyholder surplus.

After warning in February that at least 10 to 15 Florida property/casualty carriers would face downgrades if they did not take immediate action to shore up their reserves in light of deteriorating conditions in the state, Demotech said March 16 that, after working with insurers to make adjustments, it slightly downgraded only one carrier

The ratings firm said it is also monitoring three insurers — Prepared, Mount Beacon and Elements— that have been or are in the process of being sold as a result of the situation in Florida.

Joseph Petrelli, president and CEO of Ohio-based Demotech, which rates 57 carriers in Florida and 397 nationwide, said his company worked individually with companies in Florida to analyze their financial standing, strengthen their claims reserves, and provide other guidance on what they could do to avoid a ratings downgrade. The result has been $355 million in additional reserves and policyholder surplus among the Florida carriers it rates, Petrelli said.

Demotech said last month that Florida’s property insurers are facing an “uncertain operating environment” as a result of the escalating AOB crisis that has caused the number of litigated water loss claims to skyrocket over the past few years, particularly for the state-run insurer Citizens.

Please enjoy the full article below;

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/03/17/444778.htm

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

Florida now has legislation backed by the top Florida insurance regulator and the industry that promises to curtail homeowners insurance abuse under the assignment of benefits (AOB) feature.

Senate Bill 1038, filed Feb. 17 by State Sen. Dorothy Hukill and co-sponsored by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, seeks to clarify the intent of the assignment of benefits provision for policyholders and limit the scope of benefits provided to those other than the named insured on the policy

The assignment of benefits bill would also instill specified conditions for assignment agreements to be valid. The bill stipulates that an assignment agreement will not be valid unless it meets the following conditions:

  • Agreement is in writing and is executed by all named insureds
  • Allows insureds to rescind the assignment agreement within seven business days without penalty
  • Requires the assignee to provide a copy of the assigned agreement to the insured no later than three business days after the agreement is executed;
  • And includes a written, itemized, per-unit cost estimate of the work to be performed by the assignee.

Other stipulations of the bill include: prohibiting certain provisions in an assignment agreement; specifying requirements for an assignee or transferee; and requiring an assignee to meet certain requirements as a condition precedent to filing suit under a policy.

Under Florida’s current one-way attorney fee statute, policyholders suing their insurer over a claim dispute can recover their attorney’s fees if the insurer is shown to have underpaid the claim, by any amount. The goal of the bill is to keep the assignment of benefits consumer protection in place, but take away the incentive – the one-way attorney fee – that the industry claims is driving abuse by assignees, who have included unregulated water mitigation, remediation and roofing contractors typically working with attorney groups.

If passed by the Legislature and signed into law, the bill would become effective July 1, 2017

Please enjoy the full article below;

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/02/28/443010.htm

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