New Florida Property Insurance Legislation

The Florida legislature met in a special session this week to pass laws that will correct the latest insurance crisis in Florida. Insurance rates are skyrocketing, insurers are going broke, and Florida insurers are not fully paying claims—some are not doing so because they are going broke and robbing Peter to pay Paul.

One of our law firm’s lobbyists noted that even a Florida Senate leader who is an insurance agent said that the laws being passed would not reduce rates in the short term. I am attaching the House Staff Analysis, the Senate Staff Analysis, and the engrossed bill for those who would like to read the impact of the laws and the actual legislation.

Most of my effort was spent opposing the insurance industry’s attempt to make major changes to Florida’s good faith civil remedy law. The insurance industry wanted to gut laws designed to protect policyholders from the insurers who wrongfully underpay, delay, and deny claims. They were using the most recent “crisis” as an excuse to change those laws which would hold those wrongdoers accountable. “Bad Faith Reform” really means—“let insurance companies not be held accountable when they refuse to fully and promptly pay.”

United Policyholder Executive Director Amy Bach expressed concern about changes in the laws in a phone call I had with her. But she also expressed concerns about marketing practices to policyholders by some contractors, which promote insurance claims which should never be brought. Some of the new legislation addressed those marketing concerns. I have a lot of respect for Amy Bach because she is solely focused on the policyholder’s interest.

Jeff Porter and the Florida Justice Association (FJA) deserve a huge shout-out. The FJA is the major thorn in the side of the Florida insurance lobby and the strongest voice for Florida’s consumers. Without their constant vigilance, many laws harmful to insurance consumers would simply be rubber-stamped because there is no other voice in Tallahassee standing up to the hundreds of insurance company lobbyists. I am proud to be an Eagle Member of the FJA and am amazed at the work Porter and his passionate team do to support policyholder interests.

The significant bottom line on the legislation is that insurance contractors with AOBs are not going to get their attorney’s fees paid under Florida’s attorney fee statute. Policyholders will have a more difficult time finding attorneys to take their more complex and smaller cases. There is an added requirement making the policyholder prove that the insurance company breached the insurance contract when bringing an unfair claims practice lawsuit. And the legislation will not result in rates going down.

Thought For The Day

When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.
—P. J. O’Rourke

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