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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

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A sinkhole that swallowed a boat and destroyed two homes had stopped growing as officials said Saturday they would monitor it over the weekend before determining when cleanup can begin.

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The hole stayed stagnant since Friday afternoon, said Kevin Guthrie, Pasco County’s assistant administrator for public safety. He confirmed that the hole, which is 250 feet (76 meters) wide and 50 feet (15 meters) deep, is the largest in three decades in the county, which has a history of sinkholes.

Dramatic video showed the home in Land O’ Lakes, north of Tampa, collapsing into the hole Friday morning. It quickly engulfed one home and a boat and then consumed about 80 percent of another home.

Guthrie said 11 homes in all have been affected. A third home lost about 45 feet of driveway and a septic tank.

Of the other nine evacuated homes, residents were allowed to return to four of them on Saturday afternoon

Please read the full article below

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/07/17/457741.htm

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Some coastal residents always put off emergency preparations until storm clouds loom on the horizon. The National Hurricane Center is going to try giving those people a deadline this year, issuing experimental advisories showing when tropical-storm force winds may hit particular communities to help them understand when it’s too late to put up storm shutters or evacuate.

The forecasters’ advisories will be fueled by more data than ever, thanks to new weather satellites and an expanded network of underwater gliders.

New Advisory

To help people understand when storm preparations should be completed, the hurricane center will experiment with advisories showing the times when sustained tropical-storm force winds are estimated to hit land. If a tropical disturbance nears shore, forecasters also could post advisories or warnings before it develops into a tropical depression or named storm.

Florida’s emergency management director, Bryan Koon, said the new advisories could help validate evacuation orders for people who complain about “hype” around approaching storms.

“We can say, `Listen, this is when things are going to get bad in your area,”’ Koon said. “We can also use that to say, `A few hours ahead of that, stores are going to close, roads are going to get jam-packed with people, we might have to shut down power substations.”

Storm surge watches and warnings will be issued this year when U.S. coastlines are at risk for life-threatening flooding.

Please enjoy the full article below;

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/06/07/453709.htm

 

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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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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 & Life & Financial.

 

II. AUTO

Motor Vehicle Insurance/ PIP Repeal Measure

SB 156 (Brandes);1766 (Lee, T); HB 461 (Hager); HB 1063 (Grall)

HB 1063 by Representative Grall has emerged as the main House vehicle for the PIP repeal initiative; none of the other bills in the House have moved.

The bill was reported favorably as a committee substitute out of the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee with a vote of 12 to 2. The bill repeals existing PIP law and requires 25/50 bodily injury coverage and does not require any MedPay coverage and also contains no bad faith limitations.

The Senate plans to hear SB 1766 by Senator Tom Lee on April 3 in the Banking and Insurance Committee. While this bill also repeals the requirement to carry minimum PIP benefits, the bills are not identical, as SB 1766 contains a medical payments component of $5,000. A linked bill includes a public records exemption for medical payment information held by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Unfair Insurance Trade Practices/ Rebate Bill

SB 1032 (Mayfield); HB 1029 (Yarborough)

SB 1032 and HB 1029 amend statute to permit an insurer or its agent to give certain promotional items to insureds, prospective insureds, and others for the purpose of conducting a promotional or advertising program. The bills limit the value of promotional items and prohibit items exceeding $100 in total value from being given. Further, the bills prohibit an insurer or its agent from giving an aggregate total value exceeding $100 in a single calendar year to a single individual. Previously the value was capped at $25 and limited to insurer or agent logo items only.

HB 1029 was passed unanimously by the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee on March 27 and is now in its final committee of reference, House Commerce Committee. The Senate bill is scheduled to be heard on April 3 by the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.

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. One, 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. Two, 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.

The bills require an agent placing a policyholder with a private flood insurer to get a signed disclosure from the insured 20 days before the expiration of the Federal Flood Insurance policy explaining that if the consumer tries to go back to the Federal Flood Program, they may be subjected to significantly higher rates. We are working to switch this time frame to 20 days after the expiration of the policy.

The Senate bill is scheduled for a hearing on April 3 by Senate Community Affairs, its second of three committee stops. The House bill was approved by Insurance and Banking and moves next to the Commerce Committee.

Workers’ Compensation

SB 1582 (Bradley); HB 7085 (Insurance & Banking Subcommittee)

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 schedule 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 makes this bill less than ideal, and likely means that litigation will continue to expand causing rates to increase.

SB 1582 seeks to stabilize worker’s compensation rates paid by Florida Businesses. The bill 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 retains the statutory fee schedule for setting claimant attorney’s fees but allows the JCC to consider certain factors and permit deviation from the schedule.

The House bill was scheduled to be heard by the Commerce Committee on March 29, but was removed from the agenda at the last minute; it has not been rescheduled at this point. The Senate bill was filed on March 14 and is scheduled for its first hearing on April 3 by the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.

 

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.

A bill backed by the insurance industry to curb the abuse of Florida’s one-way attorney fee statute in assignment of benefit claims has stalled as lawmakers opted to instead advance what the insurance industry and the state’s regulator feel is a less effective measure.

The legislative maneuver sparked criticism by the Wall Street Journal of the Senate chair of the key committee, who in turn has accused the industry of mounting a “smear” campaign against her.

The industry setback came on Monday when the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, chaired by Senate President Pro Tempore Anitere Flores (R-Miami, Monroe), left Senate Bill 1038 off its agenda. This bill, drafted by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation with support from the state-run insurer Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and other industry groups, seeks to keep AOB consumer protections in place, but take away the incentive – the one-way attorney fee – that the industry claims is driving abuse by unregulated water mitigation, remediation and roofing contractors typically working with attorney groups

The insurance industry had tempered its expectations of getting the legislation passed because of lobbying by trial attorneys and unlicensed contractors, who the industry says are inflating water damage claims and filing frivolous lawsuits. 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.

“If you look at the trends of water claims over the last five years – it’s alarming,” Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier told Insurance Journal in February. “Absent any kind of reforms to address those trends, we could be seeing rate increases of 10 percent a year just to keep up.”

Please enjoy the full article below.

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/04/05/446884.htm

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