Florida Senate - 2019                                    SB 1464
       By Senator Brandes
       24-00373B-19                                          20191464__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to the Fair Settlement Act; providing
    3         a short title; amending s. 624.155, F.S.; revising
    4         circumstances under which the Department of Financial
    5         Services and an authorized insurer must be given a
    6         certain presuit notice; deleting a provision that
    7         tolls the period for providing the notice under
    8         certain circumstances; requiring such notices to
    9         include the specific amount of money constituting a
   10         cure of the violation; deleting a provision
   11         authorizing the department to return deficient
   12         notices; requiring insureds, claimants, or any person
   13         acting on their behalf to provide insurers with
   14         written notices of loss as a condition precedent to
   15         bad faith actions; providing that an insurer does not
   16         violate its good faith duty to settle claims and is
   17         not liable for a certain failure if it meets certain
   18         conditions; providing a limitation on an insurer’s
   19         liability to third-party claimants, under certain
   20         circumstances, if it files an interpleader action
   21         within a certain timeframe; providing construction;
   22         requiring triers of fact, under certain circumstances,
   23         to consider whether insureds, claimants, or their
   24         representatives made good faith efforts to cooperate
   25         with insurers’ investigations; providing an effective
   26         date.
   28  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   30         Section 1. This act may be cited as the “Fair Settlement
   31  Act.”
   32         Section 2. Subsection (3) of section 624.155, Florida
   33  Statutes, is amended, subsections (10), (11), and (12) are added
   34  to that section, and paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of that
   35  section is republished, to read:
   36         624.155 Civil remedy.—
   37         (1) Any person may bring a civil action against an insurer
   38  when such person is damaged:
   39         (b) By the commission of any of the following acts by the
   40  insurer:
   41         1. Not attempting in good faith to settle claims when,
   42  under all the circumstances, it could and should have done so,
   43  had it acted fairly and honestly toward its insured and with due
   44  regard for her or his interests;
   45         2. Making claims payments to insureds or beneficiaries not
   46  accompanied by a statement setting forth the coverage under
   47  which payments are being made; or
   48         3. Except as to liability coverages, failing to promptly
   49  settle claims, when the obligation to settle a claim has become
   50  reasonably clear, under one portion of the insurance policy
   51  coverage in order to influence settlements under other portions
   52  of the insurance policy coverage.
   54  Notwithstanding the provisions of the above to the contrary, a
   55  person pursuing a remedy under this section need not prove that
   56  such act was committed or performed with such frequency as to
   57  indicate a general business practice.
   58         (3)(a) Except as provided in subsection (10), as a
   59  condition precedent to bringing an action under this section,
   60  the department and the authorized insurer must be have been
   61  given 60 days’ written notice of the violation. If the
   62  department returns a notice for lack of specificity, the 60-day
   63  time period shall not begin until a proper notice is filed.
   64         (b) The notice shall be on a form provided by the
   65  department and shall state with specificity the following
   66  information, and such other information as the department may
   67  require:
   68         1. The statutory provision, including the specific language
   69  of the statute, which the authorized insurer allegedly violated.
   70         2. The facts and circumstances giving rise to the
   71  violation.
   72         3. The name of any individual involved in the violation.
   73         4. Reference to specific policy language that is relevant
   74  to the violation, if any. If the person bringing the civil
   75  action is a third-party third party claimant, she or he shall
   76  not be required to reference the specific policy language if the
   77  authorized insurer has not provided a copy of the policy to the
   78  third-party third party claimant pursuant to written request.
   79         5. A statement that the notice is given in order to perfect
   80  the right to pursue the civil remedy authorized by this section.
   81         6.The specific amount of money that constitutes a cure of
   82  the alleged violation.
   83         (c) Within 20 days of receipt of the notice, the department
   84  may return any notice that does not provide the specific
   85  information required by this section, and the department shall
   86  indicate the specific deficiencies contained in the notice. A
   87  determination by the department to return a notice for lack of
   88  specificity shall be exempt from the requirements of chapter
   89  120.
   90         (d) No action shall lie if, within 60 days after filing
   91  notice, the damages are paid or the circumstances giving rise to
   92  the violation are corrected.
   93         (d)(e) The authorized insurer that is the recipient of a
   94  notice filed pursuant to this section shall report to the
   95  department on the disposition of the alleged violation.
   96         (e)(f) The applicable statute of limitations for an action
   97  under this section shall be tolled for a period of 65 days by
   98  the mailing of the notice required by this subsection or the
   99  mailing of a subsequent notice required by this subsection.
  100         (10)As a condition precedent to a statutory or common law
  101  action for a bad faith failure to settle a liability insurance
  102  claim, the insured, the claimant, or any person acting on behalf
  103  of the insured or the claimant must provide the insurer with a
  104  written notice of loss. The insurer does not violate the duty to
  105  attempt in good faith to settle the claim and is not liable for
  106  a bad faith failure to settle under this section or the common
  107  law if the insurer:
  108         (a)Complies with a request for a disclosure statement
  109  described in s. 627.4137; and
  110         (b)Within 45 days after receipt of the written notice of
  111  loss, offers to pay the insured or the claimant the lesser of
  112  the amount the insured or the claimant is willing to accept or
  113  the limits of the liability coverage applicable to the insured’s
  114  or the claimant’s claim in exchange for full release of the
  115  insured from any liability arising from the incident and the
  116  notice of loss.
  117         (11)If two or more third-party claimants in a liability
  118  claim make competing claims arising out of a single occurrence
  119  which in total exceed the available policy limits of one or more
  120  of the insured parties who may be liable to the third-party
  121  claimants, an insurer is not liable beyond the available policy
  122  limits for failure to pay all or any portion of the available
  123  policy limits to one or more of the third-party claimants, if
  124  within 90 days after receiving notice of the competing claims in
  125  excess of the available policy limits, the insurer files an
  126  interpleader action under the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.
  127  The competing third-party claimants are entitled to a prorated
  128  share of the policy limits as determined by the trier of fact.
  129  An insurer’s interpleader action does not alter or amend the
  130  insurer’s obligation to defend its insured.
  131         (12)In evaluating whether an insurer committed an act
  132  under subparagraph (1)(b)1., the trier of fact must consider
  133  whether the insured, claimant, or representative of the insured
  134  or claimant made good faith efforts to cooperate with the
  135  insurer in the investigation of the claim.
  136         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2019.