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

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

 

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.

The Florida insurance market has been a hotbed of controversy over the last year, and many are looking at the Florida State Legislature to alleviate some of the concerns coming from consumers, businesses and the industry itself.

From insurance fraud to workers’ compensation to the escalating assignment of benefits (AOB) issue, there is no shortage of insurance topics for lawmakers to discuss when the 2017 session begins March 7.

Workers Comp

Legislation addressing the tailspin of Florida’s workers’ compensation market is considered a top priority, thanks to several 2016 decisions from the Florida Supreme Court.

AOB

The industry is backing a bill (Senate Bill 1038) drafted by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation and sponsored by State Senators Dorothy Hukill and Kathleen Passsidomo to address the abuse of assignment of benefits in Florida, particularly related to water claims

Insurance Fraud

Florida CFO Jeff Atwater announced that he is working with State Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Holly Raschien to “tackle the ever-evolving issue of insurance fraud in Florida.”

Several bills have been filed, including Senate Bill 1012, 1014, and House Bill 1007 and 1009.

Please enjoy the full article below;

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/03/03/443403.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

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’s insurance industry will apply significant pressure on lawmakers to pass assignments of benefit (AOB) reform in the upcoming legislative session as consumers face rate increases and a looming coverage availability crisis due to serious and costly abuse of the policyholder benefit.

While the industry seems to finally have reached a consensus on what is fueling the widespread AOB abuse and how to fix it, the question of whether the Florida Legislature will agree to act on the industry’s recommendations remains to be seen

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) and Citizens Property Insurance Corp., as well as other stakeholders, are working together with Florida lawmakers to introduce a bill for the 2017 legislative session, which begins on March 7. The goal is to keep the assignment of benefits consumer protection in place, but take away the incentive that is driving the abuse by assignees, who have included attorney groups, unregulated water mitigation, remediation, and roofing contractors.

The unanimous feeling is that Florida’s one-way attorney fee statute is the main driver of the problem, and that’s what the industry says needs to be addressed by legislation in the upcoming session. Under Florida’s current law, 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 industry says third party contractors and attorneys have been abusing the policyholder benefit, particularly for water losses, to inflate claims and fees

 

Please enjoy the full article below;

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/02/15/441784.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.

Assignment of benefits abuse has escalated over the last five years to the point where it is now a serious disruption to Florida’s insurance market.

The abuse, which is especially rampant in South Florida, stems from unscrupulous contractors and attorneys cashing in on homeowners dealing with a water loss, such as a burst pipe or roof leak. The “bad actors,” as they have been dubbed by the industry, use an AOB to acquire the homeowners’ insurance benefits, file inflated claims, and then lawsuits against insurers when those claims are disputed or denied

The industry hopes this will be the year that the Florida Legislature addresses the problem.

AOB is such a hot topic in Florida right now that it dominated discussions on almost every panel and between attendees of the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Florida Insurance Summit held Feb. 1-3 in Miami. A glance at the numbers from various Florida sources tells the story of why:

  • Frequency of water claims rose 46 percent and severity increased 28 percent between 2010 and 2015 (OIR 2015 Data Call)
  • AOB property insurance claims totaled 28,000 in 2016, up from 843 in 2010 and 405 in 2006 (Florida CFO Jeff Atwater)
  • Florida’s Citizens saw a 30 percent increase in new lawsuits filed against the insurer between January and November 2016 (Citizens)
  • 50 percent of Citizens’ water-related claims resulted in litigation in 2016, up from 15 percent in 2011 (Citizens)
  • As of October 2016, Citizens had 9,306 litigated claims pending and continues to receive an average of approximately 850 new claims per month (average of approximately 980 per month from August to October)
  • In South Florida, the average AOB claim costs more than $32,000, nearly triple the average of non-AOB claims (Florida Consumer Protection Coalition)

Please enjoy the full article below;

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2017/02/09/441410.htm