Florida Insurance Reform Bill SB-2D Approved | Chartwell’s Law
Florida has just passed a major insurance reform program that will have a direct impact on the property insurance industry in the state. On May 24, 2022, the Florida Senate voted 30 to 9 to approve SB-2D, then on May 25, 2022, the House passed the bill with a vote of 95 to 14. Governor DeSantis signed the bill into law on May 26, 2022.
Announcing his signing of the bill, DeSantis called the reform package “the most significant reforms to the Florida home insurance market in a generation.” Below we provide a quick overview of some of the important elements of this new legislation:
Attorney’s fees are no longer recoverable under an AOB, except pursuant to section 57.105 of Florida law. This prohibition is not limited only to “assignees” under § 627.7152, but also extends to “anyone other than a named or omnibus insured or a named beneficiary.” As such, in addition to impacting sellers operating under an AOB, another important aspect of this change is that this prohibition appears to include claim buyers of insured property. The sections concerned are as follows:
- Section 627.428 of the Florida statute is amended to add the following language:
(4) In a suit arising out of a residential or commercial property insurance policy, the right to attorneys’ fees under this section may not be transferred, assigned or otherwise acquired by anyone other than a named insured or omnibus or a named beneficiary. * Identical language has been adopted for excess line carriers under § 626.9373(3)
- “AOB Statute” – Florida Statute Section 627.7152 – has been amended to eliminate the recovery of attorneys’ fees under this section, stating that “attorneys’ fees and expenses are not recoverable by an assignee ‘under art. 57.105. »
See SB-2d on p. 44 of 54 removing previous language and 627.7152(10).
Pursuant to the amended wording of Florida statute section 626.9373, calculation of attorneys’ fees for insureds’ lawsuits against an excess lines insurer will be awarded pursuant to the requirements of § 627.70152.
The tribunal may now award insurers their attorneys’ fees to obtain dismissal under § 627.70152 due to policyholders’ failure to comply with the notice of intent requirement. See Fla Stat. § 627.70152(8)(a)(3)(b).
When awarding attorney’s fees pursuant to § 627.70152(8)(a), a strong presumption is created that lodestar’s fees are sufficient and reasonable. Such a presumption can only be rebutted in rare and exceptional circumstances with evidence that competent counsel could not reasonably be retained. This impacts the potential for attorney fee multipliers. See Fla Stat. § 627.70152(8)(a)(3)(c).
The definition of an “assignment agreement” pursuant to § 627.7152 is amended to mean “any instrument whereby claims benefits under a residential property insurance policy or a commercial property insurance policy , like this term, are defined in s. 627.0625(1), are assigned or transferred, or otherwise acquired, in whole or in part, to or by a person providing services, including, but not limited to, inspect, protect, repair, restore or replace the property or mitigate against further damage to property. This is important as the definition now includes “inspection”, which will now require engineers and diagnostics suppliers to comply with the strict requirements of the AOB Act.
Section 624.1551, Florida Statutes, is created regarding civil remedies against property insurers and provides that a plaintiff must establish that the property insurer has breached the contract of insurance to prevail in a claim for tort under art. 624.155(1)(b).
Florida statute section 627.7011(a) is amended to state that if a roof deductible under section 627.701(10) is applied to the insured loss, the insurer may limit the roof payment to the ACV value of the loss until the insurer receives reasonable proof of payment. by the roof deductible insured.
- “Reasonable proof” of payment includes a voided check, money order receipt, credit card statement, or a copy of a signed installment plan contract or other financing agreement that requires full payment of the franchise over time.
Any physical inspection of a non-hurricane claim must occur within 45 days of receipt by the insurer of the proof of loss statements. See Fla Stat. §627.70131(b). (Effective January 1, 2023).
Within seven days of the assignment of a claims adjuster, the insurer must inform the policyholder that it may request a copy of any detailed estimate of the amount of the claim generated by the insurer’s adjuster. (Effective January 1, 2023).
- After receipt of such a request from the policyholder, the insurer must send this detailed estimate to the policyholder within seven days of receipt of the request by the insurer or within seven days of the establishment of the detailed estimate of the amount of the claim. See 627.70131(d)