Florida Governor Signs Insurer Accountability, Wind-Mit Discount Bills Into Law
Florida’s governor this week signed the Insurer Accountability Act and two other bills that put new restrictions on insurers and require premium discounts for homeowners’ wind-mitigation efforts.
Senate Bill 7052 was passed this spring after the Florida Legislature approved controversial claims-litigation and attorney-fee limitations designed to help ease cost burdens on property insurers. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, in a statement Thursday, said the accountability act will bar insurers from altering independent adjusters’ damage estimates unless they provide a full explanation and a copy of the original estimate to policyholders.
The practice came to light last December when three independent adjusters told Florida legislators that a number of insurers had been making wholesale changes to their reports while making it look like the insurer-revised reports had been written by the adjusters.
SB 7052, which takes effect July 1, also:
- Clarifies that once a roof deductible is applied, no other deductible under the policy may be applied to any loss caused by the same covered peril.
- Extends the time period for an individual deployed to a combat zone or combat-support posting to file a property insurance claim for the duration of the deployment.
Requires mitigation discounts be updated at least every five years and requires insurers to provide information on their websites describing hurricane mitigation discounts that are available.
- Requires liability insurers to follow proper claims-handling practices on behalf of their policyholders and increases penalties for insurers that do not.
- Prohibits officers and directors of impaired or insolvent insurers from receiving bonuses.
- Increases the maximum OIR administrative fines that may be levied on insurance companies by 250% in most cases, and by 500% for violations during a state of emergency, such as a hurricane.
House Bill 799, which Gov. DeSantis also signed this week, expands wind-mitigation benefits by requiring insurers to allow premium discounts in their rate filings. Many insurers had already provided credits for hurricane-hardening efforts, but the law now mandates some discounts. It takes effect July 1.
The bill also dropped the 2022 requirement that high-rise condominium unit owners must purchase flood insurance if they are covered by Citizens Property Insurance for wind damage.
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