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2019 Insurance Legislative Wrap-Up

  • AOB – The session started with a bold prediction; “AOB would pass this session.” The question was if it would be significant in combating the problem of AOB’s and their impact as a significant cost driver on property and auto glass costs.
    • It was decided early on to treat both auto glass and homeowners abuses alike and focus on runaway attorney fees as the major culprit. A prohibition on one way attorney fees soon morphed into a prevailing party sliding scale on how the fees are doled out based on %’s of deviation from offer, demand, and judgement This concept came out of last year’s House proposal.
    • Another significant concept also came out of the House. That was the ability for carriers to offer non-assignable policies as long as they were cheaper than the assignable policies. This issue came straight out of the Speaker’s office. These two concepts provided the pillars for carriers to try and deal with runaway cost drivers.
    • Auto glass reform quite unexpectedly became a casualty as the bill was being considered on the House floor. A late lobbying push by the independent glass folks as well as attacks on Safelight as a “monopoly” drove the glass reforms from the bill. Auto glass reform will be a top priority next year according to both Rep. Renner and Sen. Broxson. All being said, polling carriers during and after session they are quite excited about the positive impact of these legislative fixes coupled with the ASI AOB court case currently being argued at the Supreme Court.
  • PIP to BI – Despite a lack of movement on this issue in the House, it was a hot topic in the Senate.
    • The Senate bill ended up passing through multiple committees. Discussions included whether there should be a med pay component, but most of it centered around 3rd party bad faith reform. This year was the farthest a PIP repeal bill has moved significant bad faith reform thrown in the mix.
    • Incoming Senate president Sen. Simpson played the role of arbiter between the trial lawyers and the auto carriers together with the Institute for Legal Reform. Although we were able to convince Sen. Simpson as the need for bad faith reform when considering going from a no-fault system to a tort system, his outside advisor proved to be a major obstacle to arriving at an acceptable solution. I believe this issue will be the subject of review over the summer and a major topic for the 2020 session.
  • Work Comp reform – Although highly anticipated as a major issue to be considered during the 2019 session, the continued downward pressure on rates, driven by decreasing claim frequency, seemed to take the wind out of comprehensive workers compensation reform.
    • Carriers and employers just didn’t seem to see a crisis that needed to be dealt with when looking at the health of this particular line of coverage. The only group that seemed to have the interest in addressing the issue was the self-insureds lead by Publix and Disney. This may also be a 2020 issue once we truly start to see the impact of the recent court decisions.
  • Jurisdiction of County Courts – With AOB done, this bill popped to the forefront of importance during late session for many insurance carriers.
    • Although the bill was comprehensive in nature and scope, the major bone of contention was the increase in limits of county court jurisdiction. The concern of carriers was that by increasing these limits, more cases (especially in the area of property insurance) would be given to county judges who lack the necessary expertise and time to properly adjudicate insurance disputes.
    • In addition, carriers were worried about the political implication of elected county judges and the industries lack of participation in those races.
    • The bill came on the heels of a Supreme Court staff study on the jurisdictional limits, but their findings came under significant question by non-other than the Chief Justice. Still, the bill passed on the last day of the session, and although the Governor and his staff have problems with the limits in the bill, there is necessary court funding in the bill which most likely prohibits a veto.

For more information on these and other issues that came up this session, please contact our partner George Feijoo.

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