Senate Committee Passes Bill Impacting Florida’s Surplus Lines Insurance Industry

April 11, 2019

Senate Bill 538 passed from the Florida Senate’s Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government on Tuesday, April 9.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, will make updates to the regulatory framework of Florida’s surplus lines insurance industry.

“Florida without surplus lines insurance would look much different,” said Florida Surplus Lines Association (FSLA) President Elect Michael Franzese of R-T Specialty in Tampa, Florida, in a FSLA press release. “Think about your favorite Florida downtown – tourism, entertainment, construction – or some of the emerging research and new industries expanding here in Florida. The surplus lines industry proudly serves as a safety net for these businesses, large and small. Updating this industry’s outdated laws will bring operations up to speed and help it better support a thriving Florida economy.”

Senate Bill 538, and its companion, House Bill 387, will:

  • Remove the prescriptive statutory capped fee and replaces the cap with a requirement that the fee be reasonable. The fee must be separately stated before policy purchase so that the retail agent and the customer can see it clearly and use that information to shop and find the most competitive terms to address their clients’ unique risks.
  • Remove an outdated regulatory paperwork requirement that technology replaced and,
  • Ensure that Florida’s private flood market will continue to offer additional options for the millions of households without this important coverage.

Florida is one of the top three consumers of surplus lines insurance in the country, according to the release. The industry writes more than $2 billion in premiums worth of commercial property coverage annually in Florida, covering brick and mortar businesses such as retail, hotels and restaurants.

It writes nearly $1 billion annually in premium for commercial general liability. According to the Florida Surplus Lines Service Office, there are 1,079 surplus lines agents in Florida actively writing policies.

Senate Bill 538 is assigned to and must next pass the Senate Appropriations Committee prior to a Senate floor vote. The bill’s House companion, House Bill 387, by Rep. Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland, passed from the House on March 29, with a 112-1 vote.

Source: The Florida Surplus Lines Association

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