Legislators


Please call  Lee Gorodetsky at 954-270-7966 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Auto, Business & Commercial , & life, Health and group benefits as well.

An onerous version of AOB reform is on the move in the Senate, passing its second of three committees this week. SB1168, by Senator Steube, amends current law to provide that a misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact, or incorrect statement on an insurance application may prevent recovery only if the misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact, or incorrect statement directly relates to the cause of the claim. If the misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact or incorrect statement directly relates to the cause of the claim, one of the following must apply:

  • The misrepresentation, omission, concealment, or statement is fraudulent or is material to the acceptance of the risk or to the hazard assumed by the insurer; or
  • If the true facts relative to the loss claimed had been known to the insurer pursuant to a policy requirement or other requirement, the insurer in good faith would not have:
    • Issued the policy or contract;
    • Issued the policy or contract at a premium rate at least 20 percent higher than the rate actually charged;
    • Issued a policy or contract in as large an amount; or
    • Provided coverage with respect to the hazard resulting in the loss.

 

In addition, SB1168 also amends current law to prohibit an insurer from utilizing “managed repair” controls, such as requiring that a particular vendor make repairs to a dwelling insured on the basis of replacement costs. It also prohibits the insurer from even recommending or suggesting a particular vendor to make repairs to a dwelling insured on the basis of replacement costs.

 

The bill also requires the assignee to provide a copy of the assignment agreement to the insurer within the earlier of 7 days after execution of the agreement, or 48 hours after beginning nonemergency work if the insurer has a facsimile number and e-mail address on its website designated for the delivery of such documents. It allows the insurer to inspect the property at any time. If the insurer fails to attempt in good faith to inspect the property within 7 days after learning of the loss and promptly deliver to the assignee written notice of any perceived deficiency in the assignee’s notice or the work being performed; however, the failure may be raised to estop the insurer from asserting that work done was not reasonably necessary or that the notice was insufficient.

We are working to stop this bill from advancing. Industry’s preferred AOB bill is SB62 by Senator Hukill, which has not been scheduled for a committee hearing and is unlikely to advance given the composition of the Banking & Insurance Committee in the Senate.

 

Meanwhile, the Florida House of Representatives AOB reform HB 7015 by Representative Trumbull was sent to the Senate in the first week of the legislative session. While the House version is not a perfect solution, the bill makes significant changes to the way property repair vendors are restricted in their use of an “assignment of benefits” or “AOB.”   The bill requires disclosures be provided to insureds before entering into an AOB. It also moves to a “loser pays” attorney fee system. The House legislation provides the insured with an opportunity to rescind the assignment within 7 days of entering into the contract with the vendor. Further, the bill increases 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.   While it would be better to eliminate attorneys’ fees to repair vendors altogether, this bill is an improvement over the current system.

 

In the end, it is unlikely that the House and Senate versions of AOB will match up. But if the House bill moves toward the Senate version, it will be a weaker product and possibly even onerous.

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Please call Lee at Acentria Insurance at 954-351-1960 or my cell at 954-270-7966 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial, & Life, Group & Financial products as well.

More than 125 insurance agents from across Florida, along with members of the Consumer Protection Coalition (CPC), march to the Florida Capitol on Wednesday to highlight the need for Assignment of Benefits (AOB) reform. Photo by Colin Hackley.


Insurance agents from across Florida marched together on the state’s capitol Wednesday to deliver a message to Florida lawmakers: It’s time for assignment of benefits (AOB) reform.

Carrying signs that read “STOP AOB ABUSE,” about 125 members of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents (FAIA) were accompanied by representatives from the Florida Consumer Protection Coalition (CPC) as they carried their message from downtown Tallahassee to the Florida Capitol building

Please read the full article below;

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/01/25/478397.htm

Please call Lee from Acentria Insurance at 954-351-1960 or cell at 954-270-7966 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial, & life, group & Financial products as well.

Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the Florida state-run insurer of last resort, is anticipating its policyholder count will increase in 2018 for the first time since its efforts to shed policies through depopulation began several years ago.

As it moves on from a tumultuous 2017 that included a major hurricane and ongoing assignment of benefits (AOB) abuse, Citizens executives said at its board of governors meeting last week that it anticipates more than 60,000 policyholders from private insurance companies will return to the state-run insurer of last resort.

Citizens President, CEO and Executive Director Barry Gilway told the board at the Dec. 13 meeting that the Florida domestic insurance market’s combined ratio and surplus have declined, and the majority of Florida insurers experienced negative net income for the first time in five years.

While the active 2017 storm season is one factor contributing to deteriorating insurer results, the biggest factor is increasing costs from nonweather-related losses and AOB abuse fueled by attorneys and contractors. The industry has started taking steps to limit losses from AOB, with some insurers not writing in certain areas of the state where it is the rampant.

Citizens, which is statutorily obligated to offer coverage when the private market will not, will have to pick up these policies. Gilway said he expects Citizens will see significantly less depopulation next year.

“When the market is healthy, and companies are making money, depopulation soars; when it becomes negative, depopulation drops. We are not expecting a lot of depopulation next year,” Gilway said.

Instead, Gilway said, Citizens is expecting its overall policy count of 442,000 – the lowest it has been since the company was formed in 2002 – to climb back up to around 500,000. Citizens policy count reached a high of 1.4 million before the depopulation program began in 2012.

Please read the full article below;

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/12/20/474844.htm

Please call Lee at Acentria Insurance at 954-351-1960 for free quotes on Home, Insurance, Flood, Private Flood, Car and Auto Insurance, Business & Commercial polices & Life & financial as well as group benefits. I will refer to our best agents around the state of Florida.

 

New NFIP Re-authorization Deadline Holds:   December 8, 2017

 

Despite the recent flood events, it seems that the NFIP re-authorization will likely not occur in time for the Dec. 8 deadline with another short term extension likely.  The good news is that the Disaster Relief proposed by the Administration has forgiven $16 B in NFIP debt and the focus would indicate that it is unlikely that a lapse of the NFIP will occur.

NFIP Debt Forgiveness & the Trump Administration

 

The NFIP’s debt will drop to approximately $14.5B and offer enough available borrowing authority to pay all outstanding claims due to yesterday’s passage of a Disaster Relief Spending bill proposed by the Trump Administration and sent to the President for signature.

 

The Administration’s disaster spending proposal, including 16 B in NFIP debt forgiveness, came with 15 proposed NFIP reforms which could complicate any future NFIP re-authorization discussions.

 

While Wright Flood continues to work to oppose eliminating access to the NFIP for any property unable to find coverage in the private market, we do support proposed reforms that strengthen the development of a private flood insurance market.

What Does it All Mean for NFIP Re-authorization

 

While Congress remains engaged with NFIP re-authorization and reform

issues, Wright Flood looks to take advantage of the additional time afforded by the short term re-authorization to continue the push for our combined priorities including:

  • Long term, prompt NFIP re-authorization;
  • Fair, business driven compensation for WYO insurers and our insurance producer partners;
  • An even playing field to allow private insurers the opportunity to further develop a private market for flood insurance;
  • The ongoing financial stability of a robust NFIP

Please keep in touch and be on call should we need your political action and support during this process.  In the coming weeks, Members of Congress will be visiting areas impacted by Harvey and Irma.  If you see or gain access to any Member of Congress, make certain they understand the importance of long term NFIP re-authorization for the communities you serve and for you as a business in those communities. 

 

Please call Acentria Insurance at 954-3151960 to ask me about quotes for Home, Flood, Private Flood, Auto, Business & Commercial and Life & Financial products as well.

They say they have no choice after the Florida Legislature for the fifth year in a row failed to address the crisis in water damage claims abuse.

“We keep saying help us try to solve this problem,” said Michael Carlson, president of the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida.

AOB will ultimately be addressed by the marketplace if lawmakers don’t do anything

Since lawmakers reneged on enacting reforms, insurance carriers are now taking matters into their own hands and the state’s regulator is warning consumers to be prepared.

“We will continue to see homeowners’ insurance companies raise their rates for our consumers in a best-case scenario, and in a worst case scenario just simply stop offering their products in certain regions of the state,” Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier told the Florida Cabinet last month

Please enjoy the full article below;

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/07/19/457961.htm

Please call Acentria Insurance at 1-800-609-8129 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Flood, Private Flood, Auto, Business & Commercial & life & Financial products as well.

The House Financial Services Committee on Thursday passed two bills to reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). One is a broad reform proposal that seeks to encourage more private insurance and move the program toward actuarial-based rates, while the other addresses premium credits for mitigation efforts and underwriting of urban properties.

Committee Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) said the committee will reconvene on June 21 to consider additional bills to reauthorize the NFIP

The NFIP will expire on September 30 of this year unless Congress acts to renew it.

The property/casualty insurance industry still has some qualms about the major bill advanced by the committee because it cuts the reimbursement allowance for private insurance carriers and agents participating in the program.

The major bill p;

assed is the 21st Century Flood Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 2874), which was introduced by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance. It passed by a vote of 30-26. It is a broad proposal that incorporates many of the ideas in individual bills. It aims to put the NFIP on stronger financial footing; improve flood mapping, mitigation efforts and claims handling; and encourage greater private insurer participation in the market

Please enjoy the full article below;

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2017/06/16/454822.htm#

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.

 

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