Florida Senate - 2006                        SENATOR AMENDMENT
    Bill No. CS for CS for SB 1980
                        Barcode 055158
                            CHAMBER ACTION
              Senate                               House
 1                                 .                    
 2                                 .                    
 3         Floor: WD/2R            .                    
       05/05/2006 11:53 AM         .                    
 4  ______________________________________________________________
10  ______________________________________________________________
11  Senator Campbell moved the following amendment to amendment
12  (021596):
14         Senate Amendment (with title amendment) 
15         On page 104, line 16, through
16            page 108, line 13, delete those lines
18  and insert:  
19         627.7074  Alternative procedure for resolution of
20  disputed sinkhole insurance claims.--
21         (1)  As used in this section:
22         (a)  "Neutral evaluation" means the alternative dispute
23  resolution provided for in this section.
24         (b)  "Neutral evaluator" means a professional engineer
25  or a professional geologist who has completed a course of
26  study in alternative dispute resolution designed or approved
27  by the department for use in the neutral evaluation process,
28  who is determined to be fair and impartial, and who is
29  attempting to resolve the dispute or claim under this section.
30         (c)  "Department" means the Department of Financial
31  Services.
    1:55 PM   05/03/06                             s1980c2c-32-13r

Florida Senate - 2006 SENATOR AMENDMENT Bill No. CS for CS for SB 1980 Barcode 055158 1 (2)(a) The department shall certify and maintain a 2 list of persons who are neutral evaluators. 3 (b) The department shall prepare a consumer 4 information pamphlet for distribution by the insurer to 5 policyholders. The pamphlet must clearly describe the neutral 6 evaluation process and include directions and forms necessary 7 for the policyholder to request a neutral evaluation. 8 (3) Following the receipt of the report provided under 9 s. 627.7073 or the denial of a claim for a sinkhole loss, the 10 insurer shall notify the policyholder of his or her right to 11 participate in the neutral evaluation program under this 12 section. Neutral evaluation, if requested by either the 13 policyholder or insurer, supersedes the alternative dispute 14 resolution process under s. 627.7015. The insurer shall 15 provide the policyholder with the consumer information 16 pamphlet prepared by the department pursuant to paragraph 17 (2)(b). 18 (4) Neutral evaluation is nonbinding but mandatory if 19 requested by either party. The policyholder or the insurer may 20 request to participate. A request for neutral evaluation must 21 be filed with the department by the policyholder or the 22 insurer on a form approved by the department. The request for 23 neutral evaluation must state the reason for the request and 24 must include an explanation of the issues in dispute at the 25 time of the request. Filing a request for neutral evaluation 26 tolls the applicable time requirements for filing suit for 60 27 days following the conclusion of the neutral evaluation 28 process or the time prescribed in s. 95.11, whichever is 29 later. 30 (5) Neutral evaluation must be conducted as an 31 informal process in which formal rules of evidence and 2 1:55 PM 05/03/06 s1980c2c-32-13r
Florida Senate - 2006 SENATOR AMENDMENT Bill No. CS for CS for SB 1980 Barcode 055158 1 procedure need not be observed. A party to neutral evaluation 2 is not required to attend neutral evaluation if a 3 representative of the party attends and has the authority to 4 make a binding decision on behalf of the party. All parties 5 must participate in the evaluation in good faith. 6 (6) The insurer shall pay the costs associated with 7 the neutral evaluation. However, if the policyholder seeks 8 judicial review of the recommendation of the neutral evaluator 9 and does not prevail, the policyholder shall pay the costs 10 associated with the neutral evaluation. 11 (7) Upon receipt of a request for neutral evaluation, 12 the department shall provide the parties a list of certified 13 neutral evaluators. The parties shall mutually select a 14 neutral evaluator from the list and promptly inform the 15 department. If the parties cannot agree to a neutral evaluator 16 within 10 business days, the department shall appoint a 17 neutral evaluator from the department's list. Upon selection 18 or appointment, the department shall promptly refer the 19 request to the neutral evaluator. Within 5 days after the 20 referral, the neutral evaluator shall notify the policyholder 21 and the insurer of the date, time, and place of the neutral 22 evaluation conference. The conference may be held by 23 telephone, if feasible and desirable. The neutral evaluation 24 conference shall be held within 45 days after receipt of the 25 request by the department. 26 (8) The department shall adopt rules of procedure for 27 the neutral evaluation process. 28 (9) For policyholders who are not represented by an 29 attorney, a consumer affairs specialist of the department or 30 an employee designated as the primary contact for consumers on 31 issues relating to sinkholes under s. 20.121 must be available 3 1:55 PM 05/03/06 s1980c2c-32-13r
Florida Senate - 2006 SENATOR AMENDMENT Bill No. CS for CS for SB 1980 Barcode 055158 1 for consultation to the extent that he or she may lawfully do 2 so. 3 (10) Evidence of an offer to settle a claim during the 4 neutral evaluation process, as well as any relevant conduct or 5 statements made in negotiations concerning the offer to settle 6 a claim, is inadmissible to prove liability or absence of 7 liability for the claim or its value. 8 (11) Disclosures and information divulged in the 9 neutral evaluation process which are not subject to subsection 10 (10) are admissible in any subsequent action or proceeding 11 relating to the claim or to the cause of action giving rise to 12 the claim. 13 (12) Any pending court proceeding related to the 14 subject matter of the neutral evaluation must be stayed 15 pending completion of the neutral evaluation. 16 (13) For matters that are not resolved by the parties 17 at the conclusion of the neutral evaluation, the neutral 18 evaluator shall prepare a report stating that in his or her 19 opinion the sinkhole loss has been verified or eliminated and, 20 if verified, the need for and estimated costs of stabilizing 21 the land and any covered structures or buildings and other 22 appropriate remediation or structural repairs. The evaluator's 23 report must be sent to all parties in attendance at the 24 neutral evaluation and to the department. 25 (14) The recommendation of the neutral evaluator is 26 not binding on any party and the parties retain access to 27 courts. The neutral evaluator's written recommendation is 28 admissible in any subsequent action or proceeding relating to 29 the claim or to the cause of action giving rise to the claim. 30 (15)(a) A party may seek judicial review of the 31 recommendation of the neutral evaluator to determine whether 4 1:55 PM 05/03/06 s1980c2c-32-13r
Florida Senate - 2006 SENATOR AMENDMENT Bill No. CS for CS for SB 1980 Barcode 055158 1 the recommendation is reasonable. The recommendation is 2 presumed to be reasonable and the party seeking judicial 3 review has the burden to prove to the trier of fact by a 4 preponderance of the evidence that the recommendation is not 5 reasonable. 6 (b) A recommendation is presumed not reasonable if it 7 was procured by corruption, fraud, or other undue means, there 8 was evident partiality by the neutral evaluator or misconduct 9 prejudicing the rights of any party, it is not supported by 10 competent and substantial evidence, is contrary to the law, or 11 the neutral evaluator exceeded the authority and power granted 12 by this subsection. 13 (c) If the trier of fact determines that the 14 recommendation is not reasonable, the neutral evaluation 15 recommendation must be vacated, and the trier of fact shall 16 enter a verdict based on the evidence presented. 17 (16) On or before October 1, 2008, the department 18 shall provide a report to the Governor, the President of the 19 Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives 20 setting forth information regarding claims processed using the 21 alternative procedure set forth in this section, including, 22 but not limited to, the number of claims processed and, in 23 both summary and detail form for each claim processed, the 24 amount of the claim in dispute, the time required to process 25 the claim under the alternative procedure, the outcome using 26 the alternative procedure, the cost of using the alternative 27 procedure, and the ultimate outcome of judicial review where 28 applicable. 29 (17) This section expires on October 1, 2009. 30 31 5 1:55 PM 05/03/06 s1980c2c-32-13r
Florida Senate - 2006 SENATOR AMENDMENT Bill No. CS for CS for SB 1980 Barcode 055158 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 137, lines 2-14, delete those lines 4 5 and insert: 6 creating s. 627.7074, F.S.; providing for 7 judicial review; providing that the 8 recommendation of the neutral evaluator is 9 presumed to be reasonable; providing 10 exceptions; requiring the Department of 11 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 1:55 PM 05/03/06 s1980c2c-32-13r