Florida Senate - 2006                        SENATOR AMENDMENT
    Bill No. CS for CS for SB 1980
                        Barcode 042402
                            CHAMBER ACTION
              Senate                               House
 1                                 .                    
 2                                 .                    
 3         Floor: WD/2R            .                    
       05/04/2006 06:01 PM         .                    
 4  ______________________________________________________________
10  ______________________________________________________________
11  Senator Campbell moved the following amendment:
13         Senate Amendment (with title amendment) 
14         On page 103, line 22, through
15            page 107, line 12, delete those lines
17  and insert:  
18         627.7074  Alternative procedure for resolution of
19  disputed sinkhole insurance claims.--
20         (1)  As used in this section:
21         (a)  "Neutral evaluation" means the alternative dispute
22  resolution provided for in this section.
23         (b)  "Neutral evaluator" means a professional engineer
24  or a professional geologist who has completed a course of
25  study in alternative dispute resolution designed or approved
26  by the department for use in the neutral evaluation process,
27  who is determined to be fair and impartial, and who is
28  attempting to resolve the dispute or claim under this section.
29         (c)  "Department" means the Department of Financial
30  Services.
31         (2)(a)  The department shall certify and maintain a
    10:24 AM   05/02/06                            s1980c2c-32-18b

Florida Senate - 2006 SENATOR AMENDMENT Bill No. CS for CS for SB 1980 Barcode 042402 1 list of persons who are neutral evaluators. 2 (b) The department shall prepare a consumer 3 information pamphlet for distribution by the insurer to 4 policyholders. The pamphlet must clearly describe the neutral 5 evaluation process and include directions and forms necessary 6 for the policyholder to request a neutral evaluation. 7 (3) Following the receipt of the report provided under 8 s. 627.7073 or the denial of a claim for a sinkhole loss, the 9 insurer shall notify the policyholder of his or her right to 10 participate in the neutral evaluation program under this 11 section. Neutral evaluation, if requested by either the 12 policyholder or insurer, supersedes the alternative dispute 13 resolution process under s. 627.7015. The insurer shall 14 provide the policyholder with the consumer information 15 pamphlet prepared by the department pursuant to paragraph 16 (2)(b). 17 (4) Neutral evaluation is nonbinding but mandatory if 18 requested by either party. The policyholder or the insurer may 19 request to participate. A request for neutral evaluation must 20 be filed with the department by the policyholder or the 21 insurer on a form approved by the department. The request for 22 neutral evaluation must state the reason for the request and 23 must include an explanation of the issues in dispute at the 24 time of the request. Filing a request for neutral evaluation 25 tolls the applicable time requirements for filing suit for 60 26 days following the conclusion of the neutral evaluation 27 process or the time prescribed in s. 95.11, whichever is 28 later. 29 (5) Neutral evaluation must be conducted as an 30 informal process in which formal rules of evidence and 31 procedure need not be observed. A party to neutral evaluation 2 10:24 AM 05/02/06 s1980c2c-32-18b
Florida Senate - 2006 SENATOR AMENDMENT Bill No. CS for CS for SB 1980 Barcode 042402 1 is not required to attend neutral evaluation if a 2 representative of the party attends and has the authority to 3 make a binding decision on behalf of the party. All parties 4 must participate in the evaluation in good faith. 5 (6) The insurer shall pay the costs associated with 6 the neutral evaluation. However, if the policyholder seeks 7 judicial review of the recommendation of the neutral evaluator 8 and does not prevail, the policyholder shall pay the costs 9 associated with the neutral evaluation. 10 (7) Upon receipt of a request for neutral evaluation, 11 the department shall provide the parties a list of certified 12 neutral evaluators. The parties shall mutually select a 13 neutral evaluator from the list and promptly inform the 14 department. If the parties cannot agree to a neutral evaluator 15 within 10 business days, the department shall appoint a 16 neutral evaluator from the department's list. Upon selection 17 or appointment, the department shall promptly refer the 18 request to the neutral evaluator. Within 5 days after the 19 referral, the neutral evaluator shall notify the policyholder 20 and the insurer of the date, time, and place of the neutral 21 evaluation conference. The conference may be held by 22 telephone, if feasible and desirable. The neutral evaluation 23 conference shall be held within 45 days after receipt of the 24 request by the department. 25 (8) The department shall adopt rules of procedure for 26 the neutral evaluation process. 27 (9) For policyholders who are not represented by an 28 attorney, a consumer affairs specialist of the department or 29 an employee designated as the primary contact for consumers on 30 issues relating to sinkholes under s. 20.121 must be available 31 for consultation to the extent that he or she may lawfully do 3 10:24 AM 05/02/06 s1980c2c-32-18b
Florida Senate - 2006 SENATOR AMENDMENT Bill No. CS for CS for SB 1980 Barcode 042402 1 so. 2 (10) Evidence of an offer to settle a claim during the 3 neutral evaluation process, as well as any relevant conduct or 4 statements made in negotiations concerning the offer to settle 5 a claim, is inadmissible to prove liability or absence of 6 liability for the claim or its value. 7 (11) Disclosures and information divulged in the 8 neutral evaluation process which are not subject to subsection 9 (10) are admissible in any subsequent action or proceeding 10 relating to the claim or to the cause of action giving rise to 11 the claim. 12 (12) Any pending court proceeding related to the 13 subject matter of the neutral evaluation must be stayed 14 pending completion of the neutral evaluation. 15 (13) For matters that are not resolved by the parties 16 at the conclusion of the neutral evaluation, the neutral 17 evaluator shall prepare a report stating that in his or her 18 opinion the sinkhole loss has been verified or eliminated and, 19 if verified, the need for and estimated costs of stabilizing 20 the land and any covered structures or buildings and other 21 appropriate remediation or structural repairs. The evaluator's 22 report must be sent to all parties in attendance at the 23 neutral evaluation and to the department. 24 (14) The recommendation of the neutral evaluator is 25 not binding on any party and the parties retain access to 26 courts. The neutral evaluator's written recommendation is 27 admissible in any subsequent action or proceeding relating to 28 the claim or to the cause of action giving rise to the claim. 29 (15)(a) A party may seek judicial review of the 30 recommendation of the neutral evaluator to determine whether 31 the recommendation is reasonable. The recommendation is 4 10:24 AM 05/02/06 s1980c2c-32-18b
Florida Senate - 2006 SENATOR AMENDMENT Bill No. CS for CS for SB 1980 Barcode 042402 1 presumed to be reasonable and the party seeking judicial 2 review has the burden to prove to the trier of fact by a 3 preponderance of the evidence that the recommendation is not 4 reasonable. 5 (b) A recommendation is presumed not reasonable if it 6 was procured by corruption, fraud, or other undue means, there 7 was evident partiality by the neutral evaluator or misconduct 8 prejudicing the rights of any party, it is not supported by 9 competent and substantial evidence, is contrary to the law, or 10 the neutral evaluator exceeded the authority and power granted 11 by this subsection. 12 (c) If the trier of fact determines that the 13 recommendation is not reasonable, the neutral evaluation 14 recommendation must be vacated, and the trier of fact shall 15 enter a verdict based on the evidence presented. 16 (16) On or before October 1, 2008, the department 17 shall provide a report to the Governor, the President of the 18 Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives 19 setting forth information regarding claims processed using the 20 alternative procedure set forth in this section, including, 21 but not limited to, the number of claims processed and, in 22 both summary and detail form for each claim processed, the 23 amount of the claim in dispute, the time required to process 24 the claim under the alternative procedure, the outcome using 25 the alternative procedure, the cost of using the alternative 26 procedure, and the ultimate outcome of judicial review where 27 applicable. 28 (17) This section expires on October 1, 2009. 29 30 31 5 10:24 AM 05/02/06 s1980c2c-32-18b
Florida Senate - 2006 SENATOR AMENDMENT Bill No. CS for CS for SB 1980 Barcode 042402 1 ================ T I T L E A M E N D M E N T =============== 2 And the title is amended as follows: 3 On page 7, line 31, through 4 page 8, line 5, delete those lines 5 6 and insert: 7 costs; providing for judicial review; providing 8 that the recommendation of the neutral 9 evaluator is presumed to be reasonable; 10 providing exceptions; requiring the Department 11 of Financial Services to submit a report to the 12 Governor and the Legislature by a specified 13 date; providing for future repeal of the 14 alternative procedures by a specified date; 15 amending s. 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 6 10:24 AM 05/02/06 s1980c2c-32-18b