By Timothy J. Meenan, NAIFA-Florida Lobbyist
Session Dispatch - Week 1
HOUSE ENACTS AOB REFORM
The Florida House of representatives passed HB 7015 by Representative Trumble and sent it to the Senate in the first week of the legislative session. While not a perfect solution, the bill makes significant changes to the way property repair vendors are restricted in their use of an "assignment of benefits" or "AOB." The House bill requires disclosures be provided to insureds before entering into an AOB. It also moves to a "loser pays" attorney fee system. The House legislation provides the insured with an opportunity to rescind the assignment within 7 days of entering into the contract with the vendor. Further, the bill increases consumer protections and required vendors to provide written estimates of the work to be completed and required the assignee to notify the insurer of the assignment within 3 days of it being executed. While NAIFA Florida supports eliminating attorneys' fees to repair vendors altogether, this bill is an improvement over the current system.
$100 DOLLAR BILL ADVANCES
Current law allows an insurance agent to spend up to $25 to provide advertising or logo type items to their current or prospective customers. Agents are not allowed to take a client to lunch, take their client to a football game, or participate in other usual and customary business practices. HB 483 by Representative Yarbrough would allow agents to spend up to $100 on client entertainment or business related costs without violating Florida Law. Expenditures include meals, tickets, insurance mitigation items like fire extinguishers or home fire inspections, etc. The bill was adopted by the House insurance and banking subcommittee, and moves on to its next committee.
FLOOD INSURANCE DISCLOSURE BILL MOVES
HB 1011 by Representative Cruz, requires a consumer purchasing homeowners insurance on the initial application, and at the first renewal, to sign a disclosure explaining that the homeowners policy does not include Flood insurance. Many agents already get this type of a signed document on the initial application to assure that no consumer can later claim they intended to purchase flood insurance after a claim occurs. NAIFA Florida is concerned with the idea that this disclosure MUST be signed, and is also concerned that having to get the signature, a second time...at the first renewal...is problematic and creates significant work for the agent community. The House insurance and banking subcommittee voted to move the bill forward, and we will be working with the sponsor to fix this legislation.
PIP BILLS ADVANCE
The full House of Representatives enacted legislation to eliminate PIP and replace it with mandatory bodily injury coverage. Representative Grall is the sponsor of HB 19. 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. The bill eliminates PIP completely.
SB 150 by Senator Lee was passed by the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. The bill also maintains $10,000 for physical damage, and "steps up" the requirements for mandatory BI as follows: $20,000/$40,000 beginning January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020; $25,000/$50,000 beginning January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2022; and $30,000/$60,000 beginning January 2023 and thereafter. This bill replaces PIP with a mandatory medical payments coverage of $5000. This coverage pays 100 percent of claims up to the limit, covers hospital, transportation, physician, chiropractic and dental services.
Neither of these bills address Florida's runaway bad faith lawsuit crisis, which is causing insurer settlements to increase and raising rates on Florida drivers.
CPIC CLEARINGHOUSE CONFIDENTIALITY
Information inside the CPIC clearinghouse relating to personal financial information, including proprietary business information that may be harmful to the insurer, is currently exempt from Florida's public records laws. That exemption terminates automatically on October 2, 2018, unless re-enacted by the Legislature. SB 7012 by the Committee on Banking and Insurance eliminates this "sunset" provision, and keeps the exemption from public disclosure permanent in Florida law.