Despite hearing warnings of more rate hikes and more red ink from property insurers in coming months, Florida lawmakers may little appetite for further, significant changes to the state’s insurance laws.
Instead, the Legislature, which convenes Jan. 11, may wait and see if 2019 and 2021 reform measures are having enough of an impact. But members could, at least, tinker around the edges of those statutes and consider some relatively minor changes, according to an article in the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
One bill that insurers are hoping for would be a tweak to the 2019 law that restricted assignments-of-benefits agreements on residential property. Since then, some contractors have stepped around the restrictions by creating other documents, such as “direction to pay” agreements between restoration companies and homeowners, insurers and attorneys have said.
A judge this year temporarily blocked part of the 2021 legislation, known as Senate Bill 76, that attempted to limit roofing companies’ ability to solicit work for homeowners who may or may not need an entirely new roof. Lawmakers in January may consider ways to redraft the law so that it does not infringe on roofers’ rights.
Other ideas include limiting the ability of Citizens Property Insurance Co. policyholders to veto “take outs” by private-market insurers. Citizens, the state-backed insurer of last resort that is growing too rapidly, officials said, has asked for rules that would allow a policyholder to block the take out only if the private carrier’s premiums were at least 15% higher than what the homeowner is paying with Citizens.
Another possible change: Lowering the industry-loss threshold at which insurers could tap into the state’s Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, which could reduce the level of reinsurance that carriers must purchase.
Attorneys who represent policyholders have warned that further restrictions, including more limits on attorney fees, will not reduce premiums. They have called for laws requiring more transparency on ratemaking data and to mandate that insurance carriers promptly settle claims.
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