The legislature convened for Special Session 2022A, focused on property insurance issues in Florida. Nine bills were filed for consideration:
- Attorney Fees – eliminates one-way attorney fees in suits arising in residential or commercial property insurance.
- Assignment of Benefits (AOB) – eliminates a policyholder’s ability to execute an AOB for all property insurance policies (but maintains an existing carve-out for seller-to-buyer AOB related to an ongoing insurance claim).
- Bad Faith – requires a breach of contract before a policyholder can sue a property insurer for settlement-related bad faith; acceptance of an offer of judgment or the payment of an appraisal award, alone, is not sufficient to support a lawsuit.
- Offer of Judgment – makes attorney fees available for the prevailing party in offers of judgment (proposals for settlement) in property insurance cases; allows joint offers of judgment to be contingent on the acceptance of all joint offerees.
- Florida Optional Reinsurance Assistance Program (FORA program) – creates a program that provides optional hurricane reinsurance that property insurers can purchase at near market rates. The FORA program is funded with $1 billion in general revenue for the 2023 year, and is supplemented by the premium insurers pay for coverage.
- Notice of Claim – reduces the time limit for providing notice of a loss to a property insurer from two years to one year for initial or reopened claims and from three years to 18 months for supplemental claims.
- Claims Investigation and Prompt Payments – changes the prompt pay statute to encourage property insurers to settle claims in a timely manner; requires the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) to collect certain additional data.
- Mandatory Binding Arbitration – codifies that companies, for a premium discount, may issue an optional endorsement with consent from the policyholder that requires participation in binding arbitration to settle a claim.
- Notice to Policyholders – requires that a property insurer place the “Flood Coverage Not Included” statement on the policy declarations page rather than just “with the policy documents.”
- Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) – enhances OIR’s ability to do market conduct examinations of property insurers after a hurricane, including examinations of managing general agents; allows OIR to discipline insurers for abuse of the appraisal process; adds information regarding the use of appraisal to the list of information that a property insurer must include in its quarterly reports to OIR; allows OIR to review property insurers’ forms, withdraw approval,
and suspend an insurer’s ability to invoke appraisal for up to two years; requires OIR to add the names of insurers who abuse the appraisal process to its
Property Insurer Stability Unit biannual report and post those names to its website; at OIR’s option, allows additional time for agents to place policyholders during insolvencies.
- Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens) – for renewals and takeout offers (depopulation), establishes that if a renewal or take-out offer from an authorized insurer is within 20 percent of a policyholder’s Citizens premium, including surcharges and assessments being levied, a policyholder is in ineligible to remain in Citizens; for new policies, establishes that the risk is ineligible for
Citizens coverage if the admitted-market policy is within 20 percent of a policyholder’s Citizens premium; requires Citizens residential lines policyholders to obtain flood insurance as a condition of having coverage from Citizens by 2027; provides a different glidepath for the rates that Citizens charges nonprimary residents so that those policies become actuarially sound more quickly;
authorizes Citizens to combine its three policyholder accounts into a single account upon eliminating all outstanding financing obligations to allow Citizens to use its entire surplus to pay claims.
HB 3A by Rep. McClain/SB 4A by Senator Hutson - Disaster Relief:
- Provides a partial property tax refund for residential property owners whose real property was destroyed or rendered uninhabitable for at least 30 days by Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole
- Establishes the “Florida Emergency Management Assistance Foundation,” a direct-support organization of the Division of Emergency Management (DEM). The foundation will provide assistance, funding, and support to DEM in its disaster response, recovery, and relief efforts for natural emergencies.
- Amends s. 252.37, F.S., providing that the Legislature intends to provide the entire match requirement for FEMA Public Assistance to local governments within counties designated in a FEMA disaster declaration for Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole.
- Appropriates $150 million from the General Revenue fund to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. For eligible counties and municipalities, $60 million must be used to fund the Hurricane Housing Recovery Program, and $90 million must be used to fund the Rental Recovery Loan Program.
- Authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to waive or reduce match requirements for eligible local governments for beaches located in areas impacted by Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole; creates the Hurricane Restoration Reimbursement Grant Program within DEP to assist coastal property owners with beach erosion costs as a result of Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole;
and creates the Hurricane Stormwater and Wastewater Assistance Grant Program within DEP to provide financial assistance to certain local governments that operate a stormwater or wastewater system which sustained damage from Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole. The bill appropriates $251.5 million in nonrecurring funds from the General Revenue fund to DEP to fund these provisions
HB 5A by Rep. Busatta Cabrera/SB 6A by Senator DiCeglie - Toll Relief:
- Relieves 50 percent of toll charges for drivers who utilize toll roads and are recorded by transponders at least 35 times per calendar month.
- Appropriates, for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, the nonrecurring sum of $500 million
to reimburse credited toll payments.
HB 9A by Rep. Driskell - Insurance:
- Creates a Property Insurance Commission
- Revises homeowners' eligibility criteria for mitigation grants
- Requires interests earned on insurance proceeds received by mortgagees & assignees to be paid to insureds
- Prohibits property insurers from claiming insolvency under certain circumstances
- Authorizes persons that engage in property insurance activities in other states to engage in insurance activities in this state only under certain circumstances
- Requires property insurers to cap premiums or to create sliding fee scales for premium rates
- Prohibits property insurers from using certain defenses as claims denials
- Revises requirements for risk assignment agreements
- Provides duties of OIR
- Requires DFS to adopt rules regarding allegations of insurance fraud
- Requires OPPAGA to conduct study of effectiveness of property insurance mediation program
- Increases appropriation to specified program
HB 11A by Rep. Skidmore - Establishment of Federal Catastrophe Pool:
- Urges congress to establish a federal catastrophe pool for natural disasters.