Lobbyist Tim Meenan
The 2019 regular Florida Legislative Session kicked off on Tuesday, March 5 and ended one day late on May 4. The legislature only passed 196 bills, almost an all-time low from the usual 300 bills enacted.
The 2019 session ended one day late on Saturday, May 4. Significant victories include enacting AOB reform, the NAIFA drafted requirement for life insurers to notify agents when life policies are about to lapse, stopping numerous health insurance and drug coverage mandates, and stopping numerous bad ideas. A late amendment on the Courts bill attempts to change the effective date from July 1, 2019 to upon becoming law the day the Governor signs the bill. The idea was to help stem the tide of last minute AOB claims being filed between now and July 1, the AOB bill effective date. However, a close read of that may only institute the attorney fee provisions of the AOB bill, which, uncoupled from the other requirements in the bill, may not be as effective as making the entire bill effective immediately. The legislature adopted a law to preserve minimum essential benefits and coverage for pre-existing conditions if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act. Short term health insurance policies which may have coverage caps, not meet minimum essential health benefits, and exclude various coverages were amended to move from 3 months to up to 36 months. The legislature failed to move away from PIP to mandatory bodily injury coverage, with no bad faith reform attached. An attempt to fix bad faith was seriously undertaken, but failed when the legislature was unwilling to simply grant insurers a 45 day safe harbor to pay policy limits to avoid bad faith. An attempt to eliminate the ability of life insurers to consider genetic tests in underwriting failed on the last day of session, when the ACLI, FIC and others fought it vigorously.
Week 9 was very busy as the House and Senate passed a budget and brought their remaining priorities over the finish line. The chambers passed one major piece of legislation - AOB reform. This issue has been worked on for several sessions and was a priority for Governor DeSantis, CFO Patronis and Insurance Commissioner Altmaier. Another major piece of legislation that passed last week was Firefighter cancer benefits. This was originally a bill that looked unlikely to pass, but with some late heroics it was able to cross the finish line this week.
Below is a summary of the legislation of interest that passed or failed during the 2019 session:
2019 NAIFA-Florida-Session Dispatch
By Timothy J. Meenan, NAIFA-Florida Lobbyist
2019 End of Session Update
LIFE AND ANNUITY ONLY
1. SECONDARY LIFE NOTICE SB714/HB301
HB301 by Representative Santiago passed the legislature and is on its way to the Governor for final approval. The bill is an omnibus insurance bill that makes a number of changes regarding various lines of insurance, including
Secondary Notice Prior to Life Insurance Policy Lapse, which requires a life insurer to notify the agent of the lapsing policy or provide a copy of the notice of lapse to the agent servicing the policy, in addition to the insured and their designee 21 days prior to the effective date of lapse. The bill contains an exemption for insurers that have a system for agents to check the secondary address.
2. PROTECTION FOR VULNERABLE INVESTORS - HB143/SB1466
The bill would allow a securities dealer to place a 15-day delay on suspicious transactions, clarifies that nothing in the subsection prevents the dealer from terminating a hold after contact with the specified adult and requires a dealer to notify the Office, on a quarterly basis, of every delay and related outcome. In addition, the bill would have allowed a dealer, investment adviser, or an associated person to place a temporary hold on a transaction regarding the account of a specified adult (65 or older, or meets requirements) or an account for which a specified adult is a beneficiary, or beneficial owner if the dealer, investment adviser, or associated person believes in good faith that exploitation of the specified adult has occurred.
This bill's key provision includes an exemption from tort liability for an investment advisor that has a good faith reasonable belief exploitation has occurred.
HB673 passed both the House and Senate and is heading to the Governor for final approval. The bill expands the assessment base of the FLAHIGA to include HMOs, life insurers, and annuity insurers in order to fund long-term care insurer impairments and insolvencies. Currently, only health insurers are assessed. Any assessments related to a long-term care insurer would be allocated 50 percent to accident and health insurers and HMOs and the remaining 50 percent to life and annuity member insurers. The bill contains a carve-out from the assessment for HMOs under the minimum surplus level and under a corrective action plan. The bill also caps a FLAHIGA member's or HMO's assessment relating to long-term care insurer impairments and insolvencies at 0.5 percent of the sum of its premiums written in Florida for the preceding calendar year.
2. GENETIC TESTING/LONG-TERM CARE AND DISABILITY
removes the exemption for life, disability and long-term care carriers from the prohibition on use of genetic information in the issuance of insurance policies. Provides that life insurers & long-term care insurers may not require or solicit genetic information, use genetic test results in the absence of a diagnosis of a condition related to genetic information, or consider a person's decisions or actions relating to genetic information, or consider a person' decisions or actions relating to genetic testing in any manner for any insurance purpose. The House passed this bill early in session, but ultimately the Senate did not take the bill up on the floor.
SB614 provides that the state prospectively opts out of all uniform standards adopted by the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission involving annuity and disability income insurance products; revising the compact standards adopted by this state. SB614 was referred to the Banking and Insurance; Judiciary; and Rules Committees. HB627 was referred to the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee; Civil Justice Subcommittee; and Commerce Committees. Since these bills have not been heard, this issue is likely dead for this session.
1. PBM/PRIOR AUTHORIZATION/STEP THERAPY/DRUG REBATES/FORMULARIES HB271/SB906
HB271 by Rep. Santiago imposes limitations and requirements for pharmacy audits, including advance notice and recoupment of claims, and requires OIR to establish an appeals process to findings in audit reports.
Requires annual reporting Prescription Benefit Managers ("PBM") to OIR of contractual relationships with health plans, as well as administrative fees and rebates received and passed on to plans. Data that would disclose specific plan or drug price data shall be confidential and proprietary. The bill defines pharmacy services administration organizations (PSAOs) and requires them to register with OIR and pay up to $500 registration fee every 2 years. Requires plans and PBMs to establish a secure, interactive online electronic prior authorization (PA) process for accepting electronic PA forms. The process must allow PA documentation to be uploaded if such documentation is required by the insurer or PBM to adjudicate the PA request. Requires insurers to publish online and provide to an insured in writing a procedure for an insured and health care provider to request a step therapy policy exemption. Requires insurers to authorize or deny a policy exemption request or respond to an appeal of the health insurer's authorization or denial of a request within 72-hours for non-urgent care and 24-hours in an urgent care situation. Requires plans and PBMs to publish up-to-date drug formularies online. Also requires "fail first" policy. For rebates, plan issuers are required to strive to make available to subscribers at the point of sale an amount greater than 50 percent of the rebates. Requires an annual report to OIR whether it made more than 50 percent of the rebates available to the subscribers during the prior benefit year. HB 271 was never heard.
(Mayfield - R) Requires insurers to publish online and provide to an insured in writing a procedure for an insured and health care provider to request a step therapy policy exemption. Requires insurers to authorize or deny a policy exemption request or respond to an appeal of the health insurer's authorization or denial of a request within 72-hours for non-urgent care and 24-hours in an urgent care situation. Specifies conditions where a health insurer shall grant a protocol exception. Prohibits a health insurer or PBM from implementing any new PA requirements unless;
- The changes have been available on a publicly accessible Internet website for at least 60 days before the implementation of the changes.
- Policyholders and health care providers who are affected by new or updated requirements/restrictions are provided with a written notice of the changes at least 60 days before the changes are implemented. Such notice may be delivered electronically or by other means as agreed to by the insured or the health care provider.
PA forms may not require information that is not necessary for medical necessity or coverage determinations regarding the requested medical procedure, course of
treatment, or prescription drug. SB650 was referred to the Banking and Insurance; Judiciary; and Rules Committees but has not received a hearing.
(FAILED) (Massullo - R) provides that if prescription drug coverage for the treatment of a medical condition is restricted by an insurer by a step therapy protocol, the insurer shall provide the insured and the prescribing provider access to a clear and convenient process to request a step therapy exception determination which must be made easily accessible on the health insurer's website. The health insurer must provide a prescription drug for treatment of the medical condition at least until the step therapy exception determination is made. Step therapy overrides are to be granted expeditiously if:
- The drug is contraindicated or will likely cause an adverse reaction or physical or mental harm to the insured;
- The drug is expected to be ineffective, based on the insured's medical history and the clinical evidence of the known characteristics of the prescription drug regimen;
- The insured has tried the required prescription drug under his or her current health insurance plan or another prescription drug that is in the same pharmacologic class or has the same mechanism of action, and such prescription drug lacked efficacy or effectiveness or adversely affected the insured; or
- The insured is stable on a prescription drug selected by his or her health care provider for the medical condition under consideration.
HB559 passed its first of three committees in week 3, the Health Market Reform Subcommittee. An amendment adopted on the bill on March 19 limited the scope to e-prior authorization and continuity of care for RX drugs. The bill never moved after it was amended, so it died. See also HB843, an omnibus health care package that contains a similar continuity of care amendment.
SB1180 as originally filed would have limited removing drugs from formularies to the time of coverage renewal, unless removed for clinical safety, discontinuance of manufacture, or reclassification to a more restrictive drug tier. This does not apply to grandfathered plans or Medicaid managed care plans. SB1180 by Mayfield passed its first committee this week the Senate Banking and Insurance committee and then passed in Senate Health Policy on April 8. The bill passed its final remaining stop the Rules Committee on April 23 with an amendment requiring drug manufacturers to provide advance notice of price increases. The bill then passed off of the Senate floor in a much narrower form, limiting it to a report.
HB1363 by Williamson was referred to the Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Insurance and Banking Subcommittee; and Health and Human Services Committees. The bill passed its first committee stop in week 4. An amendment was adopted to narrow the scope of the bill . It was then temporarily postponed in its second committee stop the House Commerce committee, but died when it failed to move after that.
3. PRE-EXISTING CONDITION EXCLUSIONS - SB322 (HB997)
SB322 by Simpson passed this session and is headed to the Governor for approval. The bill amends provisions of the Florida Insurance Code relating to preexisting condition exclusions, essential health benefits, association health plans, and short-term limited duration policies. It requires each insurer or HMO issuing major medical policies or contracts in Florida to offer at least one comprehensive major medical policy or contract that does not exclude, limit, deny, or delay coverage due to one or more preexisting medical conditions, and is designed to take effect if the PPACA is completely struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. This does not apply to an insurer issuing only limited benefit, disability income, specified disease, Medicare supplement, or hospital indemnity policies in this state. This bill amends the Florida Nonprofit Multiple-Employer Welfare Act to allow employers of disparate trades or industries to establish association health plans and provides that an association may be established for the purpose of providing health benefits, so long as it serves at least one other professional purpose. The bill permits insurers and HMOs to include at least one service or coverage under each of the 10 essential health benefits categories required under the ACA. The bill also defines short term insurance to include policies of less than 12 months in duration, and which may be renewed or extended for up to 36 months. Short term health insurance must contain a disclaimer noting it does not comply with PPACA, and may exclude important coverage such as hospital, drugs, or other coverages, and may not cover pre-existing conditions, and may have annual or lifetime dollar caps on coverage. The bill also requires the OIR to complete a study on Essential Health Benefits benchmark plans, and to determine options for changing benchmark and grandfathered plans. The provisions of HB997 were amended onto this bill.
4. TELEHEALTH - HB23 (SB1526)
by Yarborough passed the legislature and is now heading to the Governor for approval. The bill establishes a statutory basis and definition for telehealth. The bill:
- Provides definitions for telehealth and telehealth provider;
- Establishes practice standards for a telehealth provider;
- Creates the allowance for out-of-state telehealth providers that go through the states registration system and meet certain eligibility requirements;
- Prohibits a telehealth provider, with limited exceptions, from using telehealth to prescribe a controlled substance;
- Creates a new statute relating to the reimbursement for telehealth services; and
- prohibits insurers and HMOs from denying coverage for a covered service on the basis of the service being provided through telehealth if the same service would be covered if provided through an in-person encounter.
5. AHPS/SHORT TERM HB997/SB1422
FAILED but see SB322
by Gregory amends the Florida Nonprofit Multiple-Employer Welfare Act to allow employers of disparate trades or industries to establish association health plans and provides that an association may be established for the purpose of providing health benefits, so long as it serves at least one other professional purpose. The bill allows short-term health insurance to be provided by an issuer for a period of up to 12 months, with the opportunity for renewal up to a total coverage period of 36 months. It also specifies that short-term health insurance is not subject to the state prohibition on preexisting condition provisions in individual health insurance contracts. HB997 was referred to the Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Insurance and Banking Subcommittee; and Health and Human Services Committees. The bill passed its first subcommittee with amendments back on March 7. One
was adopted to require insurers and HMOs to include at least one service or coverage under each of the 10 essential health benefits categories required under the ACA, similar to SB 418 text. Another
retains current statutes regarding trade, industry, and professional associations. This language was then tacked onto SB322, which did pass.
6. ESSENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS SB418/HB997
FAILED but see SB322
by Simpson requires insurers and HMOs to include at least one service or coverage under each of the 10 essential health benefits categories required under the ACA. SB 418 was referred to the Banking and Insurance; Health Policy; and Rules Committees. The bill passed its third and final stop this week and was temporarily postponed on the Senate floor on April 26. An amendment was adopted to require a study of the issue instead of the original language. The House Bill language was amended onto HB997 by Gregory and SB322 by Simpson. SB 322 passed the Legislature and was sent to the Governor.
7. SINGLE PAYER HB 697/SB1486
HB697 by Mercado creates Healthy Florida Program for comprehensive universal single-payer health care coverage. The program will be based on individual's ability to pay and funded by broad-based revenue. The state would need to obtain waivers and other approvals relating to Medicaid, Florida's Children's Health Insurance Program, Medicare, the ACA, and any other federal programs so that any federal funds and subsidies would be paid by the federal government and deposited into the Healthy Florida Trust Fund. Provides job transition funding for individuals employed or previously employed in the fields of health insurance, health care service plans, and other third-party payments for health care. HB697 was referred to the Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee; and Health and Human Services Committees. SB1486 by Torres was referred to the Health Policy; Banking and Insurance; and Appropriations Committees. These bills have never been heard.
8. DIRECT HEALTH CARE - HB7 (SB1520)
PASSED (See also HB843)
HB7 by Duggan has passed the full legislature and is headed to the Governor for final approval. Current law allows individuals to contract directly with certain health care providers outside the scope of insurance, but only for primary care services. The bill removes this limitation and expands the scope of these agreements to allow direct health care agreements. The bill also adds dentists to the list of health care providers recognized by the section. The bill also replaces references to primary care and replaces it with health care to reflect the broadened scope of the agreements under the bill. The provisions of this bill were also included in HB843.
9. HEALTH CARE - HB843 (SB7078)
HB843 by Rodriguez has passed the full House and Senate and is on its way to the Governor for approval. The bill addresses a variety of health care and health insurance issues including:
- Creation of a dental student loan repayment program for dentists who treat medically underserved populations in dental health professional shortage areas or medically underserved areas;
- Transparency of hospital quality information including the rate of hospital inquired infections, overall rating of the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and System survey and the 15-day readmission rate;
- Restricting a health insurer issuing a major medical individual or group policy from requiring a step-therapy protocol under the policy for a covered prescription drug requested by the insured under certain conditions (continuity of care)
- Access to primary and specialist care in a hospital setting;
- Ambulatory surgical center services;
- Pediatric cardiac standards of care;
- Patient notification of hospital observation status;
- Health care contracts in restraint of trade or commerce;
- Expansion of direct health care agreements; and
- Portability of health care occupational licensure in the United States.
10. PRICE TRANSPARENCY - HB935/SB1560
by Rodriguez prohibits a contract between a health insurer and a health care provider from limiting a provider's ability to disclose whether a patient's cost-sharing obligation under his or her health insurance exceeds the retail price for a covered service. In addition, contracts between insurers and providers must not prevent providers from communicating the availability of more affordable services to insured patients. The bill also requires that a contract between a health insurer and a health care provider prohibit the insurer from requiring an insured patient to make a payment for a health care service that exceeds the retail price of that service in the absence of health insurance. The bill passed the full House on April 17. SB1560 by Flores was referred to the Banking and Insurance, Health Policy, and Rules Committees and was temporarily postponed in the Banking and Insurance committee on April 1. This proposal has been identified as one of House Speaker Oliva's priorities. Language requiring the state Group Plan to adopt formulary management techniques was added in the last committee.
11. RIGHT TO SHOP PASSES THE FULL HOUSE - HB1113 (SB524)
HB1113 by Renner authorizes health insurers to provide optional shared savings incentive programs in which insureds receive cash payment as incentive to save on certain nonemergency health care services. This bill was amended to contain the provisions of another bill requiring the State Group Insurance to provide coverage for medically necessary prescription and no prescription enteral formulas and amino-acid-based elemental formulas for home use. It also defines the term medically necessary for this section to mean the formula to be covered represents the only medically appropriate source of nutrition for a patient. This coverage may not exceed an amount of $20,000 annually for any insured individual. HB1113 passed the full House last week.
12. DRUG IMPORTATION PASSES OF HOUSE FLOOR - HB19 (SB1452/SB1528)
HB19 by Leek has passed the full House and Senate and is heading to the Governor for final approval. The bill establishes an International/Canadian Prescription Drug Importation Program under the AHCA contingent on federal approval and guidance. Provides annual reporting requirements, application and permitting requirements for participating entities. This bill was an early priority of Governor DeSantis and Speaker Oliva they
this priority initiative at a February 20 press conference.
13. E-PRESCRIBING PASSES FULL HOUSE - HB 831 (SB1192)
HB831 by Representative Mariano requires a prescription that is electronically generated and transmitted to contain an electronic signature from the prescribing practitioner. The bill requires health care practitioners licensed to prescribe medical drugs who maintain an electronic health records system or who prescribe drugs as an owner, employee or contractor of a licensed health care facility or practice that maintains such a system, and who is prescribing in that capacity, may only electronically transmit prescriptions for such drugs. This requirement takes effect upon renewal of the health care practitioner's license or by July 1, 2021, whichever is earlier, but does not apply if:
- The practitioner and the dispenser are the same entity;
- The prescription cannot be transmitted electronically under the most recent implemented version of the NCPDP SCRIPT program;
- The practitioner has been issued a waiver by DOH;
- The practitioner determines that it is impractical for a patient to obtain in a timely manner a drug electronically prescribed;
- The prescription is for a drug which the FDA requires to contain elements that may not be included in electronic prescribing; or
- The prescription is issued to an individual receiving hospice care or who is a resident of a nursing home
14. OPIOIDS - SB398
SB398 by Farmer prohibits health insurance policies from requiring that treatment with an opioid analgesic drug product be attempted and have failed before authorizing the use of a nonopioid-based analgesic drug product. This bill never received a hearing.
15. BENEFIT MANDATES:
- Alternative Pain Treatment HB1073 (Plascencia/SB 1360) (FAILED)
HB1073 by Plascencia requires insurers to cover at least 20 visits per referral or prescription for nonpharmaceutical intervention therapy, including acupuncture by a licensed acupuncturist, osteopathic services by a licensed osteopathic physician, chiropractic services by a licensed chiropractor, occupational therapy by a licensed occupational therapist, or massage therapy by a licensed massage therapist, if referred or prescribed by a health care practitioner to treat conditions that cause chronic nonmalignant pain. Requires health care practitioners to refer or prescribe certain nonpharmaceutical intervention therapies prior to prescribing an opioid as treatment for any condition that causes chronic nonmalignant pain. HB1073 was referred to the Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee; Health and Human Services Committees. SB1360 by Gruters was referred to the Health Policy; Banking and Insurance; Rules Committees.
- Enteral Formula HB539/SB358 (FAILED but see HB1113)
HB539 by Zika revises criteria for required coverage of enteral formulas under certain health insurance policies. Requires state group insurance program to provide such coverage. HB539 was referred to the Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee; and Health and Human Services Committees. An amendment was adopted to limit the bill to the commercial market. A provision applicable only to state employees was tacked onto HB1113.
- Pediatric Hearing Aids HB531/SB572 (FAILED)
HB531 by Brannan requires coverage for children from birth through 21 years of age for hearing aids prescribed, fitted, and dispensed by a licensed audiologist. Minimum coverage is to be $3,500 per ear within a 24-month period. HB531 was referred to the Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Appropriations Committee; and Health and Human Services Committees but has not been heard. SB572 by Baxley passed the Senate Banking and Insurance back in week 2 and then passed Senate Health Policy on April 1st. The bill's final stop will be the Senate Appropriations Committees.
- MHP HB307/SB360 (FAILED)
HB307 by Silvers
removes the optional coverage for mental and nervous disorders and requires carriers to comply with federal mental health parity laws. Requires managed care plans to submit annual report to AHCA relating to parity in mental health and substance use disorder benefits.
- MHP HB695/SB700 (FAILED)
HB695 by Mercado removes the optional coverage for mental and nervous disorders, making the coverage mandatory. Outpatient benefits may be limited to 30 hours of consultations, as opposed to the previous $1,000.
All of these benefit mandates did not pass.
HB1253 by Mariano passed the House and Senate and is on its way to the Governor for approval. The bill expands the Attorney General's authority to request information for not only Medicaid fraud cases from the Department of Health prescription drug monitoring program, but information on all cases involving prescribed controlled substances.
HB133 by Watson directs DOH to establish Emergency Medical Air Transportation Act Account within Emergency Medical Services Trust Fund. Provides conditions for department to increase Florida Medicaid reimbursement payments to emergency medical air transportation services providers, along with federal matching funds, to not more than the customary fees charged by the providers for their services.
HB961 by Fine creates the Health Innovation Commission within AHCA for the purpose of facilitating the implementation of innovative ideas to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve patient outcomes in the healthcare delivery system.
19. AIR AMBULANCE IN MEDICAID HB999/SB1514
HB999 by Representative Toledo revises statutes to require that all patients are provided cost of care information prior to electing treatment provided by hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, urgent care centers, and physicians providing services in those facilities. The bill requires that the estimate of charges provided by a facility be binding and that the amount ultimately charged by the facility may not exceed the estimate by more than 10%, unless unforeseen circumstances dictate that the charges by higher. Additionally, the bill requires that all hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and mobile surgical centers, to establish an appeal process for patients to dispute any charges that appear on an itemized statement. The bill prohibits facilities from engaging in any extraordinary collection actions against a patient prior to determining whether a patient is eligible for financial assistance or during an ongoing appeals process.
1. AOB REFORM HEADED TO THE GOVERNOR SB122/HB7065
HB7065 passed the Senate last week and is headed to the Governor for his signature. The bill amends the "one way" attorney fee for assignees of property insurance and moves to a modified "loser pays" type of system.
We worked hard to make all provisions of the bill apply to automobile glass claims, but the House ultimately forced all auto glass provisions be removed from the legislation.
The bill makes the following changes for the assignment of post-loss residential and commercial property insurance benefits:
- Requires Assignment Agreements to be in writing and executed by vendor and policyholder.
- Requires Assignment Agreement to contain a provision that allows the assignor to rescind the AOB without a penalty by submitting written notice of rescission signed by policyholder within 14 days after initial execution of the AOB. Allows longer time frames if work is not being performed.
- Vendor must provide a copy of the AOB to the insurer within 3 business days after original execution, or the date on which work begins, whichever is earlier.
- AOB's must contain a disclaimer set forth in the new law essentially notifying policyholders that they are giving up rights to control the claim, and they might get involved in litigation, and notifying them they have a right to rescind.
- AOB must contain an indemnification to policyholder against attorney fees, costs, losses incurred by the vendor in pursuing litigation.
- Prohibits AOB from containing a penalty or fee for rescission, a check or mortgage process fee, an administrative fee, or a penalty for canceling the agreement.
- If a policyholder acts under urgent or emergency circumstance to protect property from damage, and executes an AOB to protect, repair, restore or replace property or mitigate against further damage, the AOB is limited to the greater of $3000 or 1% of coverage A limits.
- If an AOB does not comply with items 1 through 7 its void and unenforceable.
- In a claim arising under an AOB, the assignee has the burden to demonstrate the insurer is not prejudiced by the assignee's failure to maintain records of all services provided, cooperate with the insurer in the claim investigation, provide insurer with requested documents regarding services provided, delivery of the AOB within 3 business days after executing the AOB or the date on which work began whichever is earlier.
- An assignee must give the policyholder with up to date revised estimates of the scope of work to be performed including supplemental claims information, must perform the work in accordance with accepted industry standards, and may not seek payment from the policyholder unless it's for extra work ordered above and beyond the original claim requested by policyholder. Vendor must, at request of the insurer, submit to Examinations Under Oath, appraisal or other alternative dispute methods set forth in the policy.
- Makes clear that managed repair programs are not invalidated by an AOB.
- Clarifies that a vendor is not able to adjust the claim by virtue of holding an AOB unless licensed as an adjuster.
- Vendors waive all claims for work performed against the insured.
- Policyholders are responsible for paying deductible, betterments ordered during the repair process or work performed prior to assignment being rescinded.
- Vendors must tell named insured, assignor, and the insurer that they intend to file suit under the AOB. Notice must specify damages in dispute, the amount claimed and a present settlement demand. The Notice must be accompanied by a detailed written invoice or estimate of services (labor hours, equipment itemized, materials supplies etc.), and proof work has been performed in accordance with industry standards.
- Insurers must respond in 10 business days after receiving presuit settlement demand with a presuit settlement offer or require vendor to participate in appraisal or other method of alternative dispute resolution required in policy. Insurers must promptly investigate, review and evaluation disputes provided by vendors.
- If the difference between the judgement obtained by vendor and the amount offered by the insurer is less than 25 percent of disputed amount, the insurer gets reasonable attorneys' fees. If the award is between 25 and 49 percent, no party gets attorney fees. If the award is 50 percent or more, the vendor is awarded attorney fees.
- If the insurer fails to inspect the property or provide written or oral authorization for repairs within 7 calendar days after First Notice of Loss, insurer waives attorney fee opportunity. However, in a state of emergency or if insured fails to allow insurer access to investigate claim, then no waiver of attorney fees.
- OIR will conduct an annual data call on AOB related claims each year.
- An insurer may offer a combination of 1, 2, or 3 policies. One that authorizes post loss assignment of benefits. A second that prohibits the post loss assignment of benefits completely. A third that partially restricts the post loss assignment of benefits. If so, the policy with restricted or no allowance of an AOB must be at a cheaper premium. Policyholders must get offered both versions of the policy, and AOB free policies must have a boldface disclaimer set forth in the statute on the dec page, and must annually tell policyholders their options for purchasing policies which include or prohibit AOB's. (This can all be done by endorsement).
- Citizens must account for the potential rate differential afforded by this legislation in its next rate filing.
2. INSURANCE OMNIBUS GOES TO GOVERNOR - HB301 (SB714)
HB301 by Representative Santiago passed the House and Senate and is now headed to the Governor. HB301 makes a number of changes regarding insurance including:
- Civil Remedies Against Insurers - provides for the insurer to invoke the appraisal process during the 60-day cure period following receipt of the required pre-suit notice. Additionally, if the insurer timely pays the result of the appraisal process, the insured will have no action for bad faith.
- Cat Fund Reimbursement Contracts - For contracts and rates effective on or after July 1, 2019, the loss adjustment expense reimbursement is increased from 5 to 10 percent.
- Surplus Lines Export Eligibility - allows homeowner's property insurance for a residential dwelling with a replacement cost of $700,000 or more to be exported to a surplus lines insurer following a single coverage rejection. This would reduce the number of coverage rejections from three to one aligning the exporting provision with the coverage limitation from Citizens (See also HB387/SB538). An amendment was filed to this section midway through session that would have allowed admitted carriers to deregulate rates on homeowners coverage A limits above $700,000 in the Senators attempt to level the playing field with the non-admitted market. We worked with the Senator to help him recognize that this change could have a negative impact and the Senator decided to remove this provision from his bill at its next committee stop.
- Unfair Insurance Trade Practices - authorizes an insurer to offer and give insureds goods or services for the purposes of loss control or loss mitigation related to covered risks. There is some argument this is subject to a $100 cap.
- Discounts for Purchase of Multiple Insurance Policies - expands the allowances of multiple policy discounts to include an insured's purchase of policies from insurers operating under a joint marking agreement, situations where the same agent is servicing policies for an insured where one was obtained through the Citizens clearinghouse process, and when the same agent is servicing policies the insured purchased from multiple and unrelated insurers.
- Agent Fees - Removes the $35 cap on the per-policy fee agents may charge for each surplus lines exported policy and instead allows retail agents to receive a reasonable per policy fee that is disclosed to separately to the customer before purchase.
- Secondary Notice Prior to Life Insurance Policy Lapse - requires a life insurer to notify the agent of the lapsing policy or provide a copy of the notice of lapse to the agent servicing the policy, in addition to the insured and their designee 21 days prior to the effective date of lapse. Several exemptions and methods are available to give insurers to provide an online portal or other method to comply.
- Salvage Certificates - Moves up the effective date for the requirement of an owner or insurance company must notify the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles within 72 hours of a motor vehicle or mobile home becoming salvage from July 1, 2023 to January 1, 2020. Also creates new provision to allow for an electronic signature on documents as required by this section.
- Proof of Mailing - Permits motor vehicle insurers to use the intelligent mail barcode, or similar method approved by USPS, to document proof of mailing of certain required notices.
- Right of Contribution for Defense Costs - Provides that, if more than one liability insurer has a duty to defend an insured, the insurer(s) that defend the insured are entitled to contribution for defense costs from the insurer(s) that do not defend. Under this scenario the court will allocate such costs. This does not apply to motor vehicle insurance or medical professional liability insurance.
- Property Insurance Claim Mediation - allows an insurer to issue the required notice of right to mediate at the time the insurer decides that a loss is covered and is issuing payment or as currently provided, at the time a claim is filed.
- Automobile Premium - Reduces from two months down to one month mandatory premium collection upon issuance of automobile insurance binder.
3. SINKHOLE AND CATASTROPHIC GROUND COVER COLLAPSE TP'D IN FIRST COMMITTEE HB541/SB566
HB541 by Representative Zika 1668 was TP'd at the sponsor's request, saying he needs more data, in its first of three committees the House Insurance & Banking committee. The bill amends current law to revise the definition of catastrophic ground cover collapse by extending coverage to "imminent" collapses. Because catastrophic ground cover collapse is mandatory, this bill would precipitate another sinkhole crisis in Florida. Plaintiffs would file suit for "imminent collapse" and a battle of the engineers would ensure...involving houses that are currently intact and contain no damage. The bill also provides circumstances under which damage to a building constitutes a specified loss. This effect of this bill would apply to all new or renewed property insurance policies issued on or after July 1, 2020.
SB566 by Senator Hooper was not heard in its first of three committees of reference, the Senate Banking & Insurance committee. These bills are likely dead.
4. HOMEOWNERS' FLOOD NOTICE - HB617 (SB380)
HB617 by Representative Newton passed the House and Senate and is now on its way to the Governor. The bill requires a disclosure to policyholders when an insurer issues a homeowners' policy that excludes coverage for the peril of flood, informing them of the benefits of flood insurance. The disclosure is as follows:
FLOOD INSURANCE: YOU MAY ALSO NEED TO CONSIDER THE PURCHASE OF FLOOD INSURANCE. YOUR HOMEOWNER'S INSURANCE POLICY DOES NOT INCLUDE COVERAGE FOR DAMAGE RESULTING FROM FLOOD EVEN IF HURRICANE WINDS AND RAIN CAUSED THE FLOOD TO OCCUR. WITHOUT SEPARATE FLOOD INSURANCE COVERAGE, YOU MAY HAVE UNCOVERED LOSSES CAUSED BY FLOOD. PLEASE DISCUSS THE NEED TO PURCHASE SEPARATE FLOOD INSURANCE COVERAGE WITH YOUR INSURANCE AGENT.
The bill also requires an insurer that issues a homeowner's insurance policy to include at initial issuance and every renewal the following disclosure:
LAW AND ORDINANCE: LAW AND ORDINANCE COVERAGE IS AN IMPORTANT COVERAGE THAT YOU MAY WISH TO PURCHASE. PLEASE DISCUSS WITH YOUR INSURANCE AGENT.
5. NONADMITTED INSURANCE MARKETS SB538/HB387
HB387 by Representative Burton passed the full House but the Senate bill was locked in its final committee, however some of these provisions were enacted in HB301. HB387 by Representative Burton passed the full House last week and now awaits the Senate bill. The bill would have done the following:
- Remove the $35 cap on the reasonable per-policy fee allowed to the surplus lines agent and requires that the fee be separately itemized to the insured before purchase and enumerated on the policy;
- Eliminates the required affidavit (information reported on the affidavit is otherwise available in electronic filing);
- Extends the exemption from diligent effort requirements for exporting of flood insurance risks for an additional six years until 2025 (gives the Insurance Commissioner the ability to end this exemption at any time upon declaring an adequate admitted market for flood coverage exists in Florida).
Its companion, SB538 by Brandes, unanimously passed its first of three committee stops, Senate Banking and Insurance, in week 2. The bill passed its second committee, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government, on April 9 but is stuck in the Appropriations committee. Similar provisions are also included in the Omnibus bills, HB301/SB714.
6. CITIZENS MONROE COUNTY RATE CAP - HB1145/SB1476
HB1145 by Representative Raschein was not heard in its first of three committees in the House Insurance & Banking committee and is dead for this session. The bill provides that a single policy issued by Citizens in Monroe County shall not exceed a 5 percent rate increase annually. This provision begins on January 1, 2020 and expires January 1, 2024. This bill does not change the existing law that caps Citizens policies at a 10 percent annual increase for the rest of the State. Both the existing law and this bill excludes sinkhole coverage from the cap.
SB1476 by Senator Flores passed the full Senate on April 26. Ultimately this bill failed because of its lack of movement in the House. Senator Flores attempted to amend this bill onto HB 301 on May 2, but that effort failed.
1. PIP REPEAL - SB896/HB733/SB1052
PIP repeal was back again this year with three different sponsors. Three of the bills have yet to be heard in their first committees. Meanwhile, SB1052 by Lee passed its second of three committee stops but did not get heard in Senate Appropriations.
HB733 by Representative Grall eliminates PIP and replace it with mandatory bodily injury coverage. The new BI limits are $25,000 for death or injury to one person, and $50,000 for the death or injury to two or more people, and $10,000 in physical damage limits.
SB1790 by Perry/HB1317 by Rep. Burton deals with PIP medical billing and fee schedules.
SB896 by Senator Brandes is similar to the HB733, eliminating PIP and replacing it with mandatory bodily injury coverage with new BI limits of $25,000 for death or injury to one person, $50,000 for the death or injury to two or more people, and $10,000 in physical damage limits. The bill also works to fix bad-faith actions against insurers.
SB1052 by Senator Lee repeals PIP and also replaces PIP mandatory bodily injury coverage and a mandatory medical payments coverage. This medical payments coverage pays 100 percent of claims up to the $5,000 limit, covers hospital, transportation, physician, chiropractic and dental services. The bill also set mandatory bodily injury and property limits. The bill eliminates PIP as of January 1, 2020, and replaces it with mandatory bodily injury limits for the death of one person up to $25,000 and subject to that limit for one person, $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people, in any one crash. The bill retained the current law limit of $10,000 financial responsibility requirement for physical damage. Additionally, the bill defines Garage liability insurance as combined single limit liability coverage including property damage and bodily injury liability coverage in the amount of at least $60,000. The bill was amended in the Senate Infrastructure and Security committee adding Named Driver Exclusion provisions which authorize a private passenger motor vehicle policy to exclude an identified individual from certain coverages.
2. MOTOR VEHICLES INSURANCE SB1232/HB765
HB765 by Representative Santiago passed its first committee House Transportation on March 12, but stalled in the Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill adds additional requirements for reports by insurers, including requiring insurers to transmit weekly the insurer's records of all active insurance policies to enable the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to identify uninsured vehicles in real time.
The bill creates the insurance online verification system, to be operational by July 1, 2022. The online verification system is intended to help identify uninsured motorists. The bill also creates the Motor Vehicle Insurance Online Verification Task Force to facilitate implementation of the motor vehicle insurance online verification system.
The bill also creates a named driver exclusion allowing motor vehicle policies to exclude an identified individual from certain coverages while the individual is operating a motor vehicle, if that individual is specifically excluded by name on the declarations page, or by endorsement, and if the policyholder consents in writing to the exclusion.
SB1232 by Senator Rader was not heard in its first of three committee stops.
3. DRIVING WHILE DISTRACTED HEADED TO GOVERNOR - HB107 (SB76)
HB107 by Representative Toledo passed the House and Senate on April 29 and is heading to the Governor for final approval. The bill changes current enforcement of the ban on texting while driving from a secondary offense to a primary offense, which will allow a law enforcement officer to stop a vehicle solely for texting while driving.
The bill also creates a new section of statute for the prohibition on the use of a wireless communications device in a handheld manner for school and work zones. This change authorizes enforcement of a ban on the use of wireless communications device in a handheld manner while operating a vehicle in a designated school crossing, school zone, or active work area as a primary offense punishable as a moving violation. The bill provides for a warning period from October 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019, an full enforcement thereafter.
4. BAD FAITH REFORM ATTEMPTED BUT NOT SUCCESSFUL
While there was not a stand-alone bill addressing bad faith reform, the insurance industry was approached by Senate Leadership, including Senate President Galvano, Senate President designate Senator Wilton Simpson, and others, about amending Tom Lee's bill to eliminate PIP, SB1052, to include bad faith reform for auto insurance accidents only. Over a series of meetings, leadership attempted to get the insurance industry and the plaintiffs trial bar to agree on compromise legislation reforming bad faith laws. Unfortunately, any draft that was a compromise ultimately not only would not work, but likely would have codified the bad case law in Florida that has precipitated the current crisis. For example, one draft attempted to codify the "best practices for good faith claim handling" which would have created a statutory duty for insurers to:
- Created a fiduciary standard for insurers to act on behalf of insureds;
- Codified the duty to defend;
- Created detailed claim investigation standards;
- Creates a new duty to diligently make a determination of coverage;
- A duty to evaluate every claim fairly with due regard for the interest of the insured;
- A duty to make all communications to insured with honesty and candor;
- A duty to provide all third party communications to the insured;
- A duty to take special care on how the claim is explained when communicating with non-attorneys; and
- Creates standards for negotiating settlements and for multiple claims;
While several attempts to compromise were made, and various drafts were considered, in the end, any language that the trial bar sought actually made the environment worse for bad faith lawsuits, and continued negotiations failed.
5. AOB GLASS REFORM - SB754/HB323
HB323 by Representative Stark passed its first of three committees on February 13 but was never heard in the Civil Justice Subcommittee. This bill prohibits a motor vehicle repair shop from offering a customer an incentive in the form of a rebate, gift, gift card, cash, coupon or other thing of value in exchange for making an insurance claim for motor vehicle glass replacement or repair. The bill also prohibits the solicitation of insurance claims by offering any such incentive for the replacement or repair of motor vehicle glass by an employee of a motor vehicle repair shop.
SB754 by Senator Stewart, passed its second of three committee stops in week 2 but was never heard in Senate Rules.
6. MOTOR VEHICLE LIEN LAW CHANGES CS/CS/CS/HB431
This legislation is a fix for how some auto repair shops and towing-storage operators exploit existing lien laws to wrest away vehicle finance and leasing companies' security or ownership interest in vehicles upon which liens have been placed. In some cases its fraudulent delivery of the notice of lien, or fraudulent or inflated charges. This bill attempts to correct those issues, especially in south Florida where these abuses are rampant.
The bill revises content and mailing requirements for notices of lien and sale. Requires repair shops to allow inspection of vehicles subject to a claim of lien. Allows a copy of an electronic or paper title to evidence and interest in a vehicle or vessel. Allows lienholders to post a bond for the release of a vehicle subject to a claim of lien for repair. Permits administrative fees of n more than $250 for the repair, towing, or storage of vehicles, prohibits fees not expressly authorized, and caps the total amount of fees that may be charged at $250, and other changes. The fee cap is important, as currently some repair and tow operations are charging over $1000 or more.
While the changes in this bill are generally lauded by the insurance industry, an earlier draft included language to cap the administrative fee at $250 which appeared to infer that insurers were required to pay the fee, even in instances where it's not the insurers responsibility. Working with the bill sponsor, this language referencing insurers was removed, but the cap on fees of $250 was preserved.
7. RED LIGHT CAMERA REPEAL - SB622/HB6003
HB6003 by Representative Sabatini has passed its first of three committee stops. The bill removes the authorization for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, counties, and municipalities to install and maintain red light cameras effective July 1, 2022.
SB622 by Senator Brandes was temporarily postponed in its first committee stop in the Senate Infrastructure and Security committee, and was placed on the agenda for the same committee on April 9 and was again temporarily postponed.
8. OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLES APPROVED BY THE GOVERNOR
SB310 by Senator Perry redefines the terms "ATV" (all-terrain vehicle) and "ROV" (recreational off-highway vehicle) to increase the width and dry weight allowed for these vehicles. This change will allow manufactures to meet increasing consumer and regulatory demands for safer vehicles.
For the definition of All-terrain vehicles the bill increases the width allowed from 50 to 55 inches and the dry weight from 1,200 to 1,500 pounds. For the definition of recreational off-highway vehicle the bill increases the width from 65 to 80 inches and the dry weight from 2,000 to 2,500 pounds.
The Governor signed this bill into law on May 3, 2019.
9. AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES HEADING TO GOVERNOR - HB311 (SB932)
HB311 by Representative Fischer passed the House and Senate and is heading to the Governor. The bill would make a number of changes to autonomous driving laws including the following:
- Remove the requirement for a person to possess a driver license to operate a fully autonomous vehicle;
- Allows a fully autonomous vehicle to operate in this state regardless of whether a human operator is physically present in the vehicle;
- Creates an exemption to driver licensing requirements when an autonomous vehicle is operated with the automated driving system engaged without a human operator physically present in the vehicle;
- Defines the term "autonomous vehicle" as any vehicle equipped with an automated driving system;
- Provides a definition for "On-Demand Autonomous Vehicle Network" as a passenger transportation network that uses a digital means to connect passengers to fully autonomous vehicles for hire.
- Allows an on-demand autonomous vehicle network to operate pursuant to state laws.
- Specifies that certain provisions of law do not apply to fully autonomous vehicles operating with the automated driving system engaged.
- Requires fully autonomous vehicles logged onto an on-demand autonomous vehicle network or engaged in a prearranged ride must be covered with primary liability coverage of at least $1 Million for death, bodily injury, and property damage; must carry PIP and uninsured vehicle coverage. Coverage may be carried by the vehicle owner, or by an on-demand autonomous vehicle network, or a combination of the two.
- For purposes of compliance with Chapter 324, drivers financial responsibility requirements, the owner or registrant of an autonomous vehicle must furnish the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles proof of ability to cover damages for crashes in the amount of $1 Million for bodily injury or death of one person in a crash, $1 Million for the death of 2 or more people hurt in a crash, and $1 Million because of injury to destruction of property of others in any one crash. Commercial autonomous motor vehicles follow current law for non-autonomous commercial vehicles.
- The insurance provisions sunset in January 1, 2024.
10. EXPANDED USES OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT - SB766/HB75
SB766 Senator Gruters passed its second of three committees in week 4 and did not make the final agenda for Senate Rules. The bill amends current law to add exceptions to the current prohibition against certain uses of drones. The bill provides that state law does not prohibit the use of a drone to:
- Assist a law enforcement agency in crowd control or traffic management; and
- Facilitate a law enforcement agency's collection of evidence at a crime scene or traffic crash scene.
The bill also provides that state law does not prohibit the use of drones by a state agency or political subdivision for:
- The assessment of damage due to flood, wildfire, or natural disaster; or
- Land management.
HB75 by Representative Yarborough was approved in all three of its referenced committee stops and passed off the full House floor on April 17.
11. DRONES BILL - SB132/HB1131
SB132 by Senator Rouson creates an additional exception to the general prohibition against law enforcement agencies using drones to gather evidence or other information. The bill provides for law enforcement agencies to use drones to prepare for or monitor safety and security at a large-scale event, defined as having more than 100 persons in attendance, if the drone use is limited to legitimate public safety purposes including but not limited to:
- Evaluating crowd size, density, or movement;
- Assessing public safety vulnerabilities or weaknesses;
- Determining appropriate staffing levels for law enforcement; or
- Identifying possible criminal activity.
HB1131 by Representative Valdes was not placed on the agenda for its first of three committee stops the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.
12. REGISTRATION & TITLING OF VEHICLES AND VESSELS HEADED TO THE GOVERNOR - HB87 (SB234)
HB87 by Representative Burton has passed all three of its committees in the House and passed off the House Floor. The bill changes the date in which heavy trucks weighing between 5,001 to 7,999 pounds renew their registration. Currently all renewals for vehicles in this weight category must renew their vehicle registration in December. This change would make it so those renewals would now fall during the birth month of the person the vehicle is registered to. All vehicles that weigh over 8,000 pounds will continue to renew in December. The bill is now awaiting the Governor's approval.
13. TRAFFIC OFFENSES - SB158/HB71
HB71 by Representative McClain was never heard in any of its three committee stops. The bill creates the Vulnerable Road User Act which makes a moving violation that causes serious bodily injury against a vulnerable road user a misdemeanor of the second degree. The bill defines a vulnerable road user as the following:
- A pedestrian;
- A person operating a bicycle, motorcycle, scooter or moped;
- A person riding an animal; or
- A person lawfully operating any of the following on a public right-of-way, crosswalk, or shoulder of the roadway:
- A farm tractor.
- A skateboard, roller skates, or in-line skates.
- A horse-drawn carriage.
- An electronic personal assistive mobility device.
- A wheelchair.
SB158 by Senator Baxley was not heard in its first committee stop Senate, Infrastructure and Security.
14. MOTOR VEHICLES - HB1057/SB974
SB974 by Senator Perry requires that when an insurance company notifies an independent entity in position of a motor vehicle to release a vehicle, the insurance company must provide the independent entity a release statement authorizing release of the vehicle to the owner or to the lienholder. The bill allows the independent entity's notice to the owner to be provided by a commercial delivery service as well as certified mail. When applying for a certificate of destruction or salvage certificate of title, the bill requires the independent entity in possession of a vehicle to:
- Provide proof of all lien satisfactions or proof of a release on all lines on a vehicle;
- Provide an affidavit indicating a notice had been sent to all lienholder and 30 days has passed since the notice was delivered;
- Provide proof of notice delivery to a lienholder at the address on the certificate of title and, if the address is different that the one on file with the Department of State for the lienholder's registered agent, provide proof of notice delivery to that address.
The bill also allows a licensed salvage motor vehicle dealer or motor vehicle auction or insurance company that processes title transactions, derelict motor vehicle certificates, and certificates of destruction for derelict and salvaged vehicles to act as an electronic filing system agent of DHSMV, if the entity does so in the normal course of business, this would be effective October 1, 2019.
Additionally, the bill allows motor vehicles to be equipped with lamps or devices underneath the vehicle.
SB 974 passed all three of its committees but ultimately was never heard on the senate floor. Its companion HB 1057 also passed all of its committees and the full House.
15. COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLES - HB725 (SB1638)
HB725 by Representative Payne passed the House and Senate and is now headed to the Governor. This bill makes several changes relating to commercial motor vehicles. The changes include:
- Providing for additional length on stinger-steered automobile transporters;
- Limiting the load upon any stinger-steered automobile transporter to no more than 4 feet beyond the front bumper of the vehicle; and
- Changing the maximum weight and length of truck tractors and trailers in the Everglades Agricultural Area.
1. BENEFITS FOR FIREFIGHTERS DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER SIGNED INTO LAW BY THE GOVERNOR SB426 (HB857/HB7129)
SB426 by Flores this bill passed the legislature and was signed into law by the Governor on May 3. The bill makes firefighters who are diagnosed with certain cancers eligible to receive certain disability or death benefits. In lieu of pursuing workers' compensation coverage, a firefighter is entitled to cancer treatment, at no cost to the firefighter, and a one-time cash payout of $25,000, upon the firefighter's initial diagnosis of cancer. In order to be entitled to these benefits, a firefighter must:
- Be employed full-time as a firefighter;
- Be employed by the state, university, city, county, port authority, special district, or fire control district;
- Have been employed by his or her employer for at least 5 continuous years;
- Not have used tobacco projects for at least the preceding 5 years; and
- Have not been employed in any other position in the preceding 5 years which is proven to create a higher risk for cancer.
In addition, the employer must provide coverage within an employer-sponsored health plan or through a group health insurance trust fund. The firefighter may not be required to contribute toward any deductible, co-payment or coinsurance amount for the treatment of cancer.
For disability and death benefits, the employer must consider a firefighter permanently and totally disabled if diagnosed with one of the 21 enumerated cancers and unable to render useful and effective service as a firefighter. Moreover, the cancer or the treatment of cancer is deemed to have occurred in the line of duty, resulting in higher disability and death benefits.
2. JOINT UNDERWRITING ASSOCIATION SB537/HB264
The bill authorizes the Florida Workers' Compensation Joint Underwriting Association, Inc. (FWCJUA) to retain unclaimed dividends or premium refunds rather than report and deliver the funds to DFS as unclaimed property, subject to the following conditions:
- Within 12 months of the failure of a dividend or premium refund to be disbursed to a former insured, FWCJUA must:
- Conduct a diligent search to locate the former insured;
- Notify the agent on the policy; and
- For unclaimed dividends or premium refunds of $250 or more, make one active attempt to directly contact the former insured using the information from the diligent search.
- FWCJUA must list all unclaimed dividends and premium discounts on their web page.
- The unclaimed dividends and premium refunds of former FWCJUA insureds may be claimed at any time.
1. DIRECT HEALTH CARE HB7 (SB1520)
PASSED (See also SB843)
HB7 by Duggan has passed the full legislature and is headed to the Governor for final approval. Current law allows individuals to contract directly with certain health care providers outside the scope of insurance, but only for primary care services. The bill removes this limitation and expands the scope of these agreements to allow direct health care agreements. The bill also adds dentists to the list of health care providers recognized by the section. The bill also replaces references to primary care and replaces it with health care to reflect the broadened scope of the agreements under the bill.
2. HEALTH CARE- HB843 (SB7078)
HB843 by Rodriguez has passed the full House and Senate and is on its way to the Governor for approval. The bill addresses a variety of health care and health insurance issues including the creation of a dental student loan repayment program for dentists who treat medically underserved populations in dental health professional shortage areas or medically underserved areas.
3. DENTAL SERVICES HB465/SB716
HB465 by Grant provides for a repayment program in the Department of Health for dental student loans who practice in public health programs. The bill was referred to the House
Health Quality Subcommittee; Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee; and Health & Human Services Committee
. SB716 by Hooper was referred to the Senate
Health Policy committee, Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, and Appropriations.
4. DENTAL THERAPY - HB649/SB684
HB649 by Plasencia would expand the scope of practice for dental therapists and permit Medicaid reimbursement. The bill was referred to H
ealth Quality Subcommittee, Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, and Health & Human Services Committee.
1. WARRANTY ASSOCIATIONS PASSES FULL HOUSE HB925 (SB1690)
HB925 by Webb has passed the full legislature and is heading to the Governor for approval. The bill revises the basis for calculating the required assets in a home warranty association's premium reserve account, requiring that such reserve account be a separate auditable account and be limited to reserves for Florida based business only. This bill also prohibits home warranties from excluding coverage solely because of the presence of rust or corrosion, except under certain circumstances. The bill revises the basis for calculating the required assets in a service warranty association's premium reserve account to only require reserves based on Florida contracts.
Additionally, the bill establishes that if a home warranty covers the replacement of components of an HVAC system due to wear and tear, but does not cover functional components of the systems necessary to maintain the compatibility of efficiency requirements of the manufacturer, the contract must:
- Provide the consumer with the option, at an additional cost to purchase replacement coverage for the functional components; and
- State in boldface type that the contract does not provide for replacement coverage for the functional components.
1. COURTS HB337 (SB328)
HB 337 by Representative Leek passed both the House and Senate and is headed to the Governor. The bill increases the jurisdictional threshold between county court and circuit courts. Currently County courts jurisdictional threshold is $15,000, this will move to $30,000 beginning January 1, 2020 and to $50,000 beginning January 1, 2022. The $15,000 threshold had been in law since 1992. The bill also:
- Adjusts the county court filing fee structure for cases valued between $2,500 and $15,000 and cases with claim greater than $15,001; and
- Adjusts the appellate fee structure for cases valued between $2,500 and $15,000 and cases with claims greater than $15,001.
The bill allows all cases heard in County Court above $15,000 to be appealed directly to the district courts of appeal, and bypass an appeal to the Circuit Courts; however a late amendment sunsets this provision in two years
A late amendment to this bill provided for HB7065 to become effective upon this bill becoming law. This was an important amendment to speed up the implementation of AOB reform, but may be read to only move up the attorney fee provisions of the bill to take effect upon becoming law.
2. HIGH SCHOOL FINANCIAL LITERACY/WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT - HB7071 (SB114/HB73/SB770)
SB7071 by Representatives Mariano and Massullo, Jr. has passed and is heading to the Governor. This education bill promotes apprenticeship, enhances talent development and increases career opportunities for Floridians through a number of legislative changes. Included with this education bill, is a provision requiring all school districts beginning with the 2019-2020 school year to offer a financial literacy course consisting of at least one-half credit as an elective. The bill allows for this one-half credit course to count towards a students two required credits in work-based learning programs. This language is in the spirit of what HB73 and SB 114 were working towards, however in this bill it is optional for a student and not a required course.
3. DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICE - HB1393 (SB1704)
HB1393 by Representative Clemons passed the House and Senate on May 1. CFO Patronis' agency bill is now headed to the Governor. The bill makes several changes to various statutes relating to:
- the Division of Treasury;
- licensing for funeral directors;
- internship requirements for funeral directors;
- disposition of proceeds by trust companies;
- uniform reporting standards by local authorities having jurisdiction relating to the fire prevention code;
- temporary licensure of insurance agents;
- insurance adjuster examination requirements;
- ending new licensure for covering only industrial fire insurance or burglary insurance;
- grounds for discretionary action regarding insurance agency licenses;
- reducing a time requirement for issuance of a nonresident public adjuster's qualification bond; and
- unclaimed property.
4. TRADE SECRET - SB1414/HB761
HB761 by Rep Massullo passed its third and final committee this week and then passed off the Floor on April 17. The bill repeals most public record exemptions for trade secrets in current law, all associated processes for designating trade secret, and most references to trade secrets contained in definitions for proprietary business information, including definitions in the insurance code.
The bill specifies that any contract or agreement to which an agency or an entity subject to public record laws is a party, is a public record, except that confidential or exempt information contained therein may be redacted prior to release of the contract, if the specific statutory exemption is identified. The following information related to any contract or agreement is not confidential or exempt;
- the parties to the contract or agreement;
- the amount of money paid, any payment structure or plan, expenditures, incentives, bonuses, fees, or penalties;
- the nature or type of the commodities or services purchase; and
- the applicable contract unit prices and deliverables.
SB1414 by Senator Gruters passed its first of three committee stops the Commerce and Tourism committee in week 4 but stalled in Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability.
5. HIGHWAY SAFETY AND MOTOR VEHICLES - HB1053
HB1053 by Brannan passed its final stop in the House State Affairs committee last week. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles agency bill makes several changes to statues governing the agency including the following:
- Strengthening the penalties for providing fraudulent information on an application for a driver license;
- Incorporating violations for texting or using a handheld phone device while operating a commercial motor vehicle as a serious disqualifying offense;
- Establishing a definition for the term crash and substituting the term accident throughout statutes; and
- Repealing the requirement to show a driver license to obtain crash reports; allows crash reports to be obtained in bulk.
HB1055 is a linked Public Records exemption bill. There is no similar Senate bill.
6. BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY SB1024 (HB735)
SB1024 by Senator Gruters has passed and is headed to the Governor for final approval. The bill establishes the Florida Blockchain Task Force comprised of government and private sector representatives to study the ways in which the state, county, and municipal governments can benefit from transitioning to a blockchain-based system for recordkeeping, security and service delivery. The task force will be housed in DFS and will explore and develop a master plan for fostering the expansion of the blockchain industry in Florida. This plan will be submitted to the Governor and Legislature for implementation of blockchain-based systems that promote government efficiencies, better services for citizens, economic development, and safer cyber-secure interaction between government and the public.