New Florida laws and regulations governing insurance matters went into effect Sunday. Some are minor changes to existing laws, but others could affect insurers and agents for years to come.
Here are some of the new requirements.
Senate Bill 76 was the premier property insurance reform bill passed by the Florida Legislature in 2021. Most of the bill, which aims to limit claims, went into effect last summer. But a significant period occurred on January 1st.
As of this week, all residential real estate insurers must begin collecting data for the annual reports to the State Insurance Office on completed claims. The reports must contain two dozen data points including claim number, policy type, location, names of repair providers, public experts, claimant’s attorney, and amounts paid, including legal fees.
The idea is to provide regulators with more data that can be used to track claims and costs.
But while insurers have to start collecting the data this week, information still needs to be created about the forms, templates, and electronic formats that insurers should use to submit the data. On October 29th, the OIR published a notice on the development of rules regarding the reporting forms. Little information was given but said that a workshop would be held if deemed necessary.
However, no workshop date had been published in the Florida Administrative Register by the end of last week.
Delaying forms and format could cause some headaches for insurance carriers, some industry analysts said. An insurance bureau spokeswoman said the information would be provided as soon as updates were available.
Notice to policyholders
SB 1598, another property insurance reform passed in 2021, has a section affecting insurers, appraisers and agents in 2022.
Starting January 1st, insurance agents can go straight to the surplus insurance market to place some real estate policies, provided they notify homeowners in writing. Previously, brokers had to prove that they had tried hard to find a freight forwarder to insure the property.
From Saturday, the broker only has to send the insured this declaration: “You agree to place the cover in the market for excess lines. A cover may be available in the approved market. Individuals insured by excess line carriers are not protected under the Florida Insurance Guaranty Act with respect to a right of recovery for the liabilities of a bankrupt, unlicensed insurer. “
Some have said the change will lead to more competition in Florida’s distressed market from the lightly regulated surplus line carriers.
Also starting this week, law requires insurers to notify consumers when their credit reports or creditworthiness are requested for insurance purposes. This notice must include: “The Department of Financial Services offers free financial literacy programs to assist you with insurance-related issues, including how loans work and creditworthiness calculations. To find out more, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com. “
Insurance companies that make negative coverage decisions are required to provide the consumer with a copy of the credit report or contact information through the credit reporting service free of charge, the law states.
The law now also gives insurers 14 instead of 10 days after receiving proof of damage to begin investigating a claim. Insurance company appraisers must also provide the property owner with their government appraisal license numbers, and insurers must keep records of appraisers who communicate with the insured. In the event of a partial payment in the event of a claim, the insurer must now declare in writing that the damage is still being examined.
SB 1598 also clarifies that interest payments will be due if an insurance company fails to pay for full settlement of the claim or an undisputed portion of the claim within 90 days of filing the claim.
Training for agents
Starting January 1, HB 1209 will change the number of training hours for most insurance agents. The update course, which is required every two years, should, for example, be four instead of five hours, according to the law.
Insurance requirements for car sharing
Senate Bill 566 now requires that individuals participating in peer-to-peer car sharing programs, including owners and rental car drivers, cover at least the minimum amount insured.
“We reflect what is being asked of Enterprise or Alamo and the others,” said Senator Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, during the debate on the bill last spring, according to news reports.
The Tennessee General Assembly passed a similar measure, which will also go into effect on Saturday.
Continued payment of wages for workers falls
Most Florida employers will see lower employee compensation rates on new and renewing policies starting January after the state insurance regulator approved an average rate cut of 4.9%. It’s the sixth straight rate cut for Florida.
Florida airlines claim it caused excessive excess data