- CAT Fund LAE – Raises Florida CAT Fund LAE reimbursement from 5% to 10% (Effective 6/1/2019 – affects current contracts)
- Electronic Salvage Title – Allows title of totaled vehicle to be forwarded electronically to DHSMV
- Work Comp Applications – Work Comp applicants & agents no longer require notarized sworn statements
- Right of Contribution – Gives liability insurers who defend an insured a right to compel the sharing of defense costs by another insurer who owes a duty to defend
- Bad Faith reform (Appraisal) – Prohibits an insured from filing a CRN within 60 days after appraisal is invoked
- Risk Based Capital – Classifies health maintenance organizations and prepaid limited health service organizations, which write in Florida and other states, as property and casualty insurers for the purpose of calculating the formula for risk-based capital.
- Seasoning Requirement – Allows OIR to waive 3-year seasoning requirements for a foreign/alien insurer if satisfied with capital and surplus
- Surplus Lines Export – Lowers export threshold from $1M to $700k for residential dwellings only needing 1 declination
- Loss Mitigation Incentives – Permits an insurer to offer goods/services of any value for the purpose of loss control/mitigation
- Multi-Policy Discount – Allows a premium discount to be offered when another policy has been purchased from a different insurer:
- With a joint marketing arrangement
- That issued the policy pursuant to the Citizens clearinghouse program if the same agent services both policies
- And the policy is serviced by the same agent
- Proof of Mailing – Expands allowable methods for proof of mailing by motor vehicle insurers
- Property Claim Mediation Notice – Allows notice to be sent at the time of issuance and renewal instead of when the claim is filed
- Prepayment of Private Passenger Auto Premium – Reduces the minimum upfront premium collected from 2 months to 1 month.
- Life Lapse Notice – Requires notice of lapse to the agent 21 days prior to effective date with exceptions.
Jurisdiction of Courts (HB 337)
- Sends county court appeals greater than $15k to the district court instead of circuit court (will be repealed on 1/1/2023)
- County Court jurisdiction increased from $15k to:
- $30k on 1/1/2020
- $50k on 1/1/2023
- Requires report and recommendation on jurisdictional limits by 2/1/2021
- Changes the effective date of the attorney fee provisions within HB 7065 – AOB bill to the date the bill is signed by the Governor.
Blockchain Technology (SB 1024)
- Establishes the Florida Blockchain Task Force comprised of government and private sector representatives to study the ways in which the state, county and municipal governments can benefit from transitioning to a blockchain-based system for recordkeeping, security, and service delivery.
- Task force will reflect ethnic diversity of the state and have 13 members:
- 3 agency heads appointed by Governor
- 4 private sector members appointed by Governor
- 3 private sector members appointed by CFO
- 1 private sector member appointed by Senate President
- 1 private sector member appointed by Speaker of the House
- 1 CPA appointed by the Governor
Department of Financial Services package (HB 1393)
- Requires settlements of property insurance claims conducted through mediation to be reported to all parties by the mediator at the conclusion of the mediation
- Shortens the time frame for licensure of a non-resident public adjuster from one year to six months of licensure or employment in another state
- Allows an insurer to make a non-assignable policy available as long as they also make an assignable policy available. The assignable policy must be cheaper
- Contains parameters on assignments, such as a rescission period (14 days), prohibition on check or mortgage processing fees, requirement of an itemized cost estimate, etc. Also, the AOB must be provided to the insurer within three business days
- Adds a cap of $3,000 or 1% of coverage A for emergency circumstances. The cap only applies to residential property AOBs. “Emergency” is defined in the amendment
- Imposes certain duties on assignees, such as cooperate with the insurer, maintain records, sit for EUOs, participate in appraisal and other alternative dispute resolution, etc.
- Protects the insured from certain claims by the assignee
- Regarding litigation and attorney fees, the bill requires a pre-suit notice with a demand and requires insurers to respond to it. Fees are awarded to the prevailing party based on the difference between the judgment obtained and the pre-suit offer. Under the bill, if the difference between the judgment and the settlement offer is:
- Less than 25 percent of the disputed amount, the insurer is entitled to attorney fees
- At least 25 percent but less than 50 percent of the disputed amount, neither party is entitled to fees
- At least 50 percent of the disputed amount, the assignee is entitled to attorney fees
- The attorney fee provision will be effective as of the signing of the bill. This is due to language we inserted into HB 337 – Jurisdiction of Courts.
- Requires each insurer to report specified data on claims paid in the prior year under assignment agreements by January 30, 2022, and each year thereafter.
- For Citizens Property only, prohibits rate changes in 2019 for DP-3 and HO-3 policies unless the rate filing reflects projected rate savings due to the AOB bill.
- This bill fixes a prior glitch in statute that required a notice stating that an HO policy does not include flood coverage even when the policy did contain flood coverage.
Texting while Driving (HB 107)
- Makes texting while driving a primary offense
- Prohibits a person from operating a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device in a handheld manner in a designated school crossing, school zone, or work zone
- Removes the requirement of a license to operate a “fully autonomous vehicle” (defined in the bill as a vehicle that can be driven without a human operator).
- Deems the automated driving system as the “operator” of an autonomous vehicle operating in fully autonomous mode. This has big implications for historical auto liability theory.
- Reinforces that a fully autonomous vehicle may operate without a human operator physically present in the vehicle.
- Removes certain duties/penalties imposed upon the operator of a “fully autonomous vehicle” if the vehicle is operated in fully autonomous mode.
- Fully autonomous vehicles used in TNC (e.g. UBER) must have $1M in liability insurance as well PIP and UM per current state law.
- Fully autonomous vehicles not used in TNCs must maintain proof of financial responsibility in the amount of $1M in liability. However Commercial motor vehicles that are fully autonomous only need to meet the insurance requirements found in current law.
Vicarious Liability for Special Mobile Equipment (SB 862)
- Provides the owner of leased special mobile equipment immunity from vicarious liability as long as the lease agreement requires documented proof of liability insurance coverage in the amount of 250k/500k/100k.
- This bill is a response to the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling in Newton v. Caterpillar which found that a loader is subject to the dangerous instrumentality doctrine which imposes strict vicarious liability on the owner of such property.
- Authorizes remote video notarization and electronic wills.
- Online Notaries must show evidence of a $25k bond and $25k E&O policy.
- Qualified custodians of electronic wills must maintain $250k bond and $250k E&O policy.
- Remote Online Notarization service provider must maintain $250k in E&O coverage.
- Adds “contractors” to the list of persons who can recover one-way attorney fees under 627.428, F.S.
Building Permits w/ Construction Defect language (HB 447)
- Provides that a notice of a construction defect claim does not toll any statute of repose.
- The law provides eligible firefighters with 21 forms of cancer the full cost of cancer treatment along with a $25,000 payout. It also grants disability pay and death benefits for beneficiaries. These benefits are all provided as an alternative to pursuing workers compensation.
For more information please contact our partner George Feijoo.