Florida Senate - 2021              PROPOSED COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE
       Bill No. CS for SB 1598
       Proposed Committee Substitute by the Committee on Appropriations
       (Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and
       General Government)
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to consumer protection; amending
    3         501.0051, F.S.; deleting authorization for consumer
    4         reporting agencies to charge a fee for reissuing or
    5         providing a new unique personal identifier to a
    6         consumer; amending s. 624.307, F.S.; revising a
    7         requirement for persons licensed or authorized by the
    8         Department of Financial Services or the Office of
    9         Insurance Regulation to respond to the department’s
   10         Division of Consumer Services regarding consumer
   11         complaints; amending s. 624.501, F.S.; deleting a fee
   12         for adjusting firm licenses; amending s. 626.112,
   13         F.S.; deleting an obsolete provision; prohibiting
   14         unlicensed activity by an adjusting firm; providing an
   15         exemption; providing an exemption from licensure for
   16         branch firms that meet certain criteria; providing an
   17         administrative penalty for failing to apply for
   18         certain licensure; providing a criminal penalty for
   19         aiding or abetting unlicensed activity; amending s.
   20         626.602, F.S.; authorizing the department to
   21         disapprove the use of insurance agency names
   22         containing the word “Medicare” or “Medicaid”;
   23         providing an exception for certain insurance agencies
   24         for a certain period; providing for expiration of
   25         certain licenses on a certain date; amending s.
   26         626.621, F.S.; adding grounds on which the department
   27         may take certain actions against a license,
   28         appointment, or application of certain insurance
   29         representatives; amending ss. 626.782 and 626.783,
   30         F.S.; revising the definitions of the terms
   31         “industrial class insurer” and “ordinary-combination
   32         class insurer,” respectively, to conform to changes
   33         made by the act; repealing s. 626.796, F.S., relating
   34         to the representation of multiple insurers in the same
   35         industrial debit territory; amending s. 626.854, F.S.;
   36         revising the timeframes in which an insured or a
   37         claimant may cancel a public adjuster’s contract to
   38         adjust a claim without penalty or obligation;
   39         requiring that a public adjuster’s contract include a
   40         specified disclosure; specifying requirements for
   41         written estimates of loss provided by public adjusters
   42         to claimants or insureds; revising a prohibition
   43         against certain contractors or subcontractors
   44         providing insureds with specified services; providing
   45         an exception; revising services a person is prohibited
   46         from performing unless the person meets specified
   47         requirements; authorizing the department to take
   48         administrative actions and impose fines against
   49         persons performing specified activities without
   50         licensure; amending s. 626.916, F.S.; revising
   51         disclosure requirements for certain classes of
   52         insurance before being eligible for export under the
   53         Surplus Lines Law; amending s. 626.9541, F.S.; adding
   54         certain acts or practices to the definition of
   55         sliding; amending s. 626.9741, F.S.; requiring an
   56         insurer to include certain additional information when
   57         providing an applicant or insured with certain credit
   58         report or score information; amending s. 626.9953,
   59         F.S.; correcting a cross-reference; amending ss.
   60         626.9957 and 627.062, F.S.; conforming cross
   61         references; amending s. 627.502, F.S.; prohibiting
   62         life insurers from writing new policies of industrial
   63         life insurance beginning on a certain date; making
   64         technical changes; amending s. 627.70131, F.S.;
   65         providing that a communication made to or by an
   66         insurer’s representative, rather than to or by an
   67         insurer’s agent, constitutes communication to or by
   68         the insurer; revising the timeframe for insurers to
   69         begin certain investigations; requiring an insurer
   70         assigned licensed adjuster to provide the policyholder
   71         with certain information in certain investigations;
   72         requiring insurers to maintain certain records and
   73         provide certain lists upon request; requiring insurers
   74         to include specified notices when providing
   75         preliminary or partial damage estimates or claim
   76         payments; providing applicability; conforming
   77         provisions to changes made by the act; creating s.
   78         627.7031, F.S.; prohibiting foreign venue clauses in
   79         property insurance policies; providing applicability;
   80         amending s. 627.7142, F.S.; revising information
   81         contained in the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights;
   82         conforming provisions to changes made by the act;
   83         amending s. 631.57, F.S.; deleting a deductible on the
   84         obligation of the Florida Insurance Guaranty
   85         Association, Incorporated, as to certain covered
   86         claims; amending s. 631.904, F.S.; revising the
   87         definition of the term “covered claim”; deleting a
   88         requirement that a policy be in force on the date of
   89         the final order of liquidation; providing effective
   90         dates.
   92  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   94         Section 1. Subsection (9) of section 501.0051, Florida
   95  Statutes, is amended to read:
   96         501.0051 Protected consumer report security freeze.—
   97         (9)(a) A consumer reporting agency may not charge any fee
   98  to place or remove a security freeze.
   99         (b)A consumer reporting agency may charge a reasonable
  100  fee, not to exceed $10, if the representative fails to retain
  101  the original unique personal identifier provided by the consumer
  102  reporting agency and the agency must reissue the unique personal
  103  identifier or provide a new unique personal identifier to the
  104  representative.
  105         Section 2. Paragraph (b) of subsection (10) of section
  106  624.307, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  107         624.307 General powers; duties.—
  108         (10)
  109         (b) Any person licensed or issued a certificate of
  110  authority by the department or the office shall respond, in
  111  writing, to the division within 20 days after receipt of a
  112  written request for documents and information from the division
  113  concerning a consumer complaint. The response must address the
  114  issues and allegations raised in the complaint and include any
  115  requested documents concerning the consumer complaint not
  116  subject to attorney-client or work-product privilege. The
  117  division may impose an administrative penalty for failure to
  118  comply with this paragraph of up to $2,500 per violation upon
  119  any entity licensed by the department or the office and $250 for
  120  the first violation, $500 for the second violation, and up to
  121  $1,000 for the third or subsequent violation upon any individual
  122  licensed by the department or the office.
  123         Section 3. Subsection (20) of section 624.501, Florida
  124  Statutes, is amended to read:
  125         624.501 Filing, license, appointment, and miscellaneous
  126  fees.—The department, commission, or office, as appropriate,
  127  shall collect in advance, and persons so served shall pay to it
  128  in advance, fees, licenses, and miscellaneous charges as
  129  follows:
  130         (20) Adjusting firm, original or renewal 3-year
  131  license...................................................$60.00
  132         Section 4. Present subsection (9) of section 626.112,
  133  Florida Statutes, is redesignated as subsection (10) and
  134  amended, a new subsection (9) is added to that section, and
  135  paragraph (d) of subsection (7) of that section is amended, to
  136  read:
  137         626.112 License and appointment required; agents, customer
  138  representatives, adjusters, insurance agencies, service
  139  representatives, managing general agents, insurance adjusting
  140  firms.—
  141         (7)
  142         (d)Effective October 1, 2015, the department must
  143  automatically convert the registration of an approved registered
  144  insurance agency to an insurance agency license.
  145         (9)(a)An individual, a firm, a partnership, a corporation,
  146  an association, or any other entity may not act in its own name
  147  or under a trade name, directly or indirectly, as an adjusting
  148  firm unless it complies with s. 626.8696 with respect to
  149  possessing an adjusting firm license for each place of business
  150  at which it engages in an activity that may be performed only by
  151  a licensed insurance adjuster. However, an adjusting firm that
  152  is owned and operated by a single licensed adjuster conducting
  153  business in his or her individual name and not employing or
  154  otherwise using the services of or appointing other licensees is
  155  exempt from the adjusting firm licensing requirements of this
  156  subsection.
  157         (b)A branch place of business that is established by a
  158  licensed adjusting firm is considered a branch firm and is not
  159  required to be licensed if:
  160         1.It transacts business under the same name and federal
  161  tax identification number as the licensed adjusting firm;
  162         2.It has designated with the department a primary adjuster
  163  operating the location as required by s. 626.8695; and
  164         3.The address and telephone number of the branch location
  165  have been submitted to the department for inclusion in the
  166  licensing record of the licensed adjusting firm within 30 days
  167  after insurance transactions begin at the branch location.
  168         (c)If an adjusting firm is required to be licensed but
  169  fails to apply for licensure in accordance with this subsection,
  170  the department must impose an administrative penalty of up to
  171  $10,000 on the firm.
  172         (10)(9) Any person who knowingly transacts insurance or
  173  otherwise engages in insurance activities in this state without
  174  a license in violation of this section or who knowingly aids or
  175  abets an unlicensed person in transacting insurance or otherwise
  176  engaging in insurance activities in this state without a license
  177  commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in
  178  s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
  179         Section 5. Subsection (4) is added to section 626.602,
  180  Florida Statutes, to read:
  181         626.602 Insurance agency names; disapproval.—The department
  182  may disapprove the use of any true or fictitious name, other
  183  than the bona fide natural name of an individual, by any
  184  insurance agency on any of the following grounds:
  185         (4)The name contains the word “Medicare” or “Medicaid.” An
  186  insurance agency whose name contains the word “Medicare” or
  187  “Medicaid” but which is licensed as of July 1, 2021, may
  188  continue to use that name until June 30, 2023, provided that the
  189  agency’s license remains valid. If the agency’s license expires
  190  or is suspended or revoked, the agency may not be relicensed
  191  using that name. Licenses for agencies with names containing
  192  either of these words automatically expire on July 1, 2023,
  193  unless these words are removed from the name.
  194         Section 6. Subsections (16) and (17) are added to section
  195  626.621, Florida Statutes, to read:
  196         626.621 Grounds for discretionary refusal, suspension, or
  197  revocation of agent’s, adjuster’s, customer representative’s,
  198  service representative’s, or managing general agent’s license or
  199  appointment.—The department may, in its discretion, deny an
  200  application for, suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew or continue
  201  the license or appointment of any applicant, agent, adjuster,
  202  customer representative, service representative, or managing
  203  general agent, and it may suspend or revoke the eligibility to
  204  hold a license or appointment of any such person, if it finds
  205  that as to the applicant, licensee, or appointee any one or more
  206  of the following applicable grounds exist under circumstances
  207  for which such denial, suspension, revocation, or refusal is not
  208  mandatory under s. 626.611:
  209         (16)Taking an action that allows the personal financial or
  210  medical information of a consumer or customer to be made
  211  available or accessible to the general public, regardless of the
  212  format in which the record is stored.
  213         (17)Initiating in-person or telephone solicitation after 9
  214  p.m. or before 8 a.m. local time of the prospective customer
  215  unless requested by the prospective customer.
  216         Section 7. Section 626.782, Florida Statutes, is amended to
  217  read:
  218         626.782 “Industrial class insurer” defined.—An “industrial
  219  class insurer” is an insurer collecting premiums on policies of
  220  writing industrial life insurance, as defined in s. 627.502,
  221  written before July 1, 2021, and as to such insurance, operates
  222  under a system of collecting a debit by its agent.
  223         Section 8. Section 626.783, Florida Statutes, is amended to
  224  read:
  225         626.783 “Ordinary-combination class insurer” defined.—An
  226  “ordinary-combination class insurer” is an insurer writing both
  227  ordinary class insurance and collecting premiums on existing
  228  industrial life class insurance as defined by s. 627.502.
  229         Section 9. Section 626.796, Florida Statutes, is repealed.
  230         Section 10. Subsections (6), (11), (15), and (19) of
  231  section 626.854, Florida Statutes, are amended, and subsection
  232  (20) is added to that section, to read:
  233         626.854 “Public adjuster” defined; prohibitions.—The
  234  Legislature finds that it is necessary for the protection of the
  235  public to regulate public insurance adjusters and to prevent the
  236  unauthorized practice of law.
  237         (6) An insured or claimant may cancel a public adjuster’s
  238  contract to adjust a claim without penalty or obligation within
  239  10 3 business days after the date on which the contract is
  240  executed or within 3 business days after the date on which the
  241  insured or claimant has notified the insurer of the claim,
  242  whichever is later. The public adjuster’s contract must contain
  243  the following language in minimum 18-point bold type: “You, the
  244  insured, may cancel this contract for any reason without penalty
  245  or obligation to you within 10 days after the date of this
  246  contract by providing notice to ...(name of public adjuster)...,
  247  submitted in writing and sent by certified mail, return receipt
  248  requested, or other form of mailing that provides proof thereof,
  249  at the address specified in the contract disclose to the insured
  250  or claimant his or her right to cancel the contract and advise
  251  the insured or claimant that notice of cancellation must be
  252  submitted in writing and sent by certified mail, return receipt
  253  requested, or other form of mailing that provides proof thereof,
  254  to the public adjuster at the address specified in the contract;
  255  provided, during any state of emergency as declared by the
  256  Governor and for 1 year after the date of loss, the insured or
  257  claimant has 5 business days after the date on which the
  258  contract is executed to cancel a public adjuster’s contract.
  259         (11) Each public adjuster must provide to the claimant or
  260  insured a written estimate of the loss to assist in the
  261  submission of a proof of loss or any other claim for payment of
  262  insurance proceeds within 60 days after the date of the
  263  contract. The written estimate must include an itemized, per
  264  unit estimate of the repairs, including itemized information on
  265  equipment, materials, labor, and supplies, in accordance with
  266  accepted industry standards. The public adjuster shall retain
  267  such written estimate for at least 5 years and shall make the
  268  estimate available to the claimant or insured, the insurer, and
  269  the department upon request.
  270         (15) A licensed contractor under part I of chapter 489, or
  271  a subcontractor of such licensee, may not advertise, solicit,
  272  offer to handle, handle, or perform public adjuster services as
  273  provided in s. 626.854(1) adjust a claim on behalf of an insured
  274  unless licensed and compliant as a public adjuster under this
  275  chapter. The prohibition against solicitation does not preclude
  276  a contractor from suggesting or otherwise recommending to a
  277  consumer that the consumer consider contacting his or her
  278  insurer to determine if the proposed repair is covered under the
  279  consumer’s insurance policy. In addition However, the contractor
  280  may discuss or explain a bid for construction or repair of
  281  covered property with the residential property owner who has
  282  suffered loss or damage covered by a property insurance policy,
  283  or the insurer of such property, if the contractor is doing so
  284  for the usual and customary fees applicable to the work to be
  285  performed as stated in the contract between the contractor and
  286  the insured.
  287         (19) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, no
  288  person, except an attorney at law or a licensed public adjuster,
  289  may for money, commission, or any other thing of value, directly
  290  or indirectly:
  291         (a) Prepare, complete, or file an insurance claim for an
  292  insured or a third-party claimant;
  293         (b) Act on behalf of or aid an insured or a third-party
  294  claimant in negotiating for or effecting the settlement of a
  295  claim for loss or damage covered by an insurance contract;
  296         (c) Offer to initiate or negotiate a claim on behalf of an
  297  insured;
  298         (d) Advertise services that require a license for
  299  employment as a public adjuster; or
  300         (e)(d) Solicit, investigate, or adjust a claim on behalf of
  301  a public adjuster, an insured, or a third-party claimant.
  302         (20)The department may take administrative actions and
  303  impose fines against any persons performing claims adjusting as
  304  defined in s. 626.015(6) or any other services as described in
  305  this section without the licensure required under this section
  306  and s. 626.112.
  307         Section 11. Effective January 1, 2022, subsection (3) of
  308  section 626.916, Florida Statutes, is amended, and paragraph (f)
  309  is added to subsection (1) of that section, to read:
  310         626.916 Eligibility for export.—
  311         (1) No insurance coverage shall be eligible for export
  312  unless it meets all of the following conditions:
  313         (f)The insured has signed or otherwise provided documented
  314  acknowledgment of a disclosure in substantially the following
  315  form: “You are agreeing to place coverage in the surplus lines
  316  market. Coverage may be available in the admitted market.
  317  Persons insured by surplus lines carriers are not protected
  318  under the Florida Insurance Guaranty Act with respect to any
  319  right of recovery for the obligation of an insolvent unlicensed
  320  insurer.”
  321         (3)(a) Subsection (1) does not apply to wet marine and
  322  transportation or aviation risks that which are subject to s.
  323  626.917.
  324         (b) Paragraphs (1)(a)-(d) do not apply to classes of
  325  insurance which are subject to s. 627.062(3)(d)1. These classes
  326  may be exportable under the following conditions:
  327         1. The insurance must be placed only by or through a
  328  surplus lines agent licensed in this state;
  329         2. The insurer must be made eligible under s. 626.918; and
  330         3. The insured has complied with paragraph (1)(f) must sign
  331  a disclosure that substantially provides the following: “You are
  332  agreeing to place coverage in the surplus lines market. Superior
  333  coverage may be available in the admitted market and at a lesser
  334  cost. Persons insured by surplus lines carriers are not
  335  protected under the Florida Insurance Guaranty Act with respect
  336  to any right of recovery for the obligation of an insolvent
  337  unlicensed insurer.” If the disclosure notice is signed by the
  338  insured, the insured is presumed to have been informed and to
  339  know that other coverage may be available, and, with respect to
  340  the diligent-effort requirement under subsection (1), there is
  341  no liability on the part of, and no cause of action arises
  342  against, the retail agent presenting the form.
  343         Section 12. Paragraph (z) of subsection (1) of section
  344  626.9541, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  345         626.9541 Unfair methods of competition and unfair or
  346  deceptive acts or practices defined.—
  348  ACTS.—The following are defined as unfair methods of competition
  349  and unfair or deceptive acts or practices:
  350         (z) Sliding.—Sliding is the act or practice of any of the
  351  following:
  352         1. Representing to the applicant that a specific ancillary
  353  coverage or product is required by law in conjunction with the
  354  purchase of insurance when such coverage or product is not
  355  required.;
  356         2. Representing to the applicant that a specific ancillary
  357  coverage or product is included in the policy applied for
  358  without an additional charge when such charge is required.; or
  359         3. Charging an applicant for a specific ancillary coverage
  360  or product, in addition to the cost of the insurance coverage
  361  applied for, without the informed consent of the applicant.
  362         4.Initiating, effectuating, binding, or otherwise issuing
  363  a policy of insurance without the prior informed consent of the
  364  owner of the property to be insured.
  365         5.Mailing, transmitting, or otherwise submitting by any
  366  means an invoice for premium payment to a mortgagee or escrow
  367  agent, for the purpose of effectuating an insurance policy,
  368  without the prior informed consent of the owner of the property
  369  to be insured. However, this subparagraph does not apply in
  370  cases in which the mortgagee or escrow agent is renewing
  371  insurance or issuing collateral protection insurance, as defined
  372  in s. 624.6085, pursuant to the mortgage or other pertinent loan
  373  documents or communications regarding the property.
  374         Section 13. Effective January 1, 2022, subsection (3) of
  375  section 626.9741, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  376         626.9741 Use of credit reports and credit scores by
  377  insurers.—
  378         (3) An insurer must inform an applicant or insured, in the
  379  same medium as the application is taken, that a credit report or
  380  score is being requested for underwriting or rating purposes.
  381  The notification to the consumer must include the following
  382  language: “The Department of Financial Services offers free
  383  financial literacy programs to assist you with insurance-related
  384  questions, including how credit works and how credit scores are
  385  calculated. To learn more, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com.” An
  386  insurer that makes an adverse decision based, in whole or in
  387  part, upon a credit report must provide at no charge, a copy of
  388  the credit report to the applicant or insured or provide the
  389  applicant or insured with the name, address, and telephone
  390  number of the consumer reporting agency from which the insured
  391  or applicant may obtain the credit report. The insurer must
  392  provide notification to the consumer explaining the reasons for
  393  the adverse decision. The reasons must be provided in
  394  sufficiently clear and specific language so that a person can
  395  identify the basis for the insurer’s adverse decision. Such
  396  notification shall include a description of the four primary
  397  reasons, or such fewer number as existed, which were the primary
  398  influences of the adverse decision. The use of generalized terms
  399  such as “poor credit history,” “poor credit rating,” or “poor
  400  insurance score” does not meet the explanation requirements of
  401  this subsection. A credit score may not be used in underwriting
  402  or rating insurance unless the scoring process produces
  403  information in sufficient detail to permit compliance with the
  404  requirements of this subsection. It shall not be deemed an
  405  adverse decision if, due to the insured’s credit report or
  406  credit score, the insured continues to receive a less favorable
  407  rate or placement in a less favorable tier or company at the
  408  time of renewal except for renewals or reunderwriting required
  409  by this section.
  410         Section 14. Subsection (5) of section 626.9953, Florida
  411  Statutes, is amended to read:
  412         626.9953 Qualifications for registration; application
  413  required.—
  414         (5) An applicant must submit a set of his or her
  415  fingerprints to the department and pay the processing fee
  416  established under s. 624.501(23) s. 624.501(24). The department
  417  shall submit the applicant’s fingerprints to the Department of
  418  Law Enforcement for processing state criminal history records
  419  checks and local criminal records checks through local law
  420  enforcement agencies and for forwarding to the Federal Bureau of
  421  Investigation for national criminal history records checks. The
  422  fingerprints shall be taken by a law enforcement agency, a
  423  designated examination center, or another department-approved
  424  entity. The department may not approve an application for
  425  registration as a navigator if fingerprints have not been
  426  submitted.
  427         Section 15. Subsection (1) of section 626.9957, Florida
  428  Statutes, is amended to read:
  429         626.9957 Conduct prohibited; denial, revocation, or
  430  suspension of registration.—
  431         (1) As provided in s. 626.112, only a person licensed as an
  432  insurance agent or customer representative may engage in the
  433  solicitation of insurance. A person who engages in the
  434  solicitation of insurance as described in s. 626.112(1) without
  435  such license is subject to the penalties provided under s.
  436  626.112(10) s. 626.112(9).
  437         Section 16. Subsection (10) of section 627.062, Florida
  438  Statutes, is amended to read:
  439         627.062 Rate standards.—
  440         (10) Any interest paid pursuant to s. 627.70131(7) s.
  441  627.70131(5) may not be included in the insurer’s rate base and
  442  may not be used to justify a rate or rate change.
  443         Section 17. Section 627.502, Florida Statutes, is amended
  444  to read:
  445         627.502 “Industrial life insurance” defined; reporting;
  446  prohibition on new policies after a certain date.—
  447         (1) For the purposes of this code, “industrial life
  448  insurance” is that form of life insurance written under policies
  449  under which premiums are payable monthly or more often, bearing
  450  the words “industrial policy” or “weekly premium policy” or
  451  words of similar import imprinted upon the policies as part of
  452  the descriptive matter, and issued by an insurer that which, as
  453  to such industrial life insurance, is operating under a system
  454  of collecting a debit by its agent.
  455         (2) Every life insurer servicing existing transacting
  456  industrial life insurance shall report to the office all annual
  457  statement data regarding the exhibit of life insurance,
  458  including relevant information for industrial life insurance.
  459         (3)Beginning July 1, 2021, a life insurer may not write a
  460  new policy of industrial life insurance.
  461         Section 18. Effective January 1, 2022, section 627.70131,
  462  Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  463         627.70131 Insurer’s duty to acknowledge communications
  464  regarding claims; investigation.—
  465         (1)(a) Upon an insurer’s receiving a communication with
  466  respect to a claim, the insurer shall, within 14 calendar days,
  467  review and acknowledge receipt of such communication unless
  468  payment is made within that period of time or unless the failure
  469  to acknowledge is caused by factors beyond the control of the
  470  insurer which reasonably prevent such acknowledgment. If the
  471  acknowledgment is not in writing, a notification indicating
  472  acknowledgment shall be made in the insurer’s claim file and
  473  dated. A communication made to or by a representative an agent
  474  of an insurer with respect to a claim shall constitute
  475  communication to or by the insurer.
  476         (b) As used in this subsection, the term “representative”
  477  “agent” means any person to whom an insurer has granted
  478  authority or responsibility to receive or make such
  479  communications with respect to claims on behalf of the insurer.
  480         (c) This subsection does shall not apply to claimants
  481  represented by counsel beyond those communications necessary to
  482  provide forms and instructions.
  483         (2) Such acknowledgment must shall be responsive to the
  484  communication. If the communication constitutes a notification
  485  of a claim, unless the acknowledgment reasonably advises the
  486  claimant that the claim appears not to be covered by the
  487  insurer, the acknowledgment must shall provide necessary claim
  488  forms, and instructions, including an appropriate telephone
  489  number.
  490         (3)(a) Unless otherwise provided by the policy of insurance
  491  or by law, within 14 10 working days after an insurer receives
  492  proof of loss statements, the insurer shall begin such
  493  investigation as is reasonably necessary unless the failure to
  494  begin such investigation is caused by factors beyond the control
  495  of the insurer which reasonably prevent the commencement of such
  496  investigation.
  497         (b)If such investigation involves a physical inspection of
  498  the property, the licensed adjuster assigned by the insurer must
  499  provide the policyholder with a printed or electronic document
  500  containing his or her name and state adjuster license number.
  501         (c)Any subsequent communication with the policyholder
  502  regarding the claim must also include the name and license
  503  number of the adjuster communicating about the claim.
  504  Communication of the adjuster’s name and license number may be
  505  included with other information provided to the policyholder.
  506         (4) An insurer shall maintain a record or log of each
  507  adjuster who communicates with the policyholder as provided in
  508  paragraphs (3)(b) and (c) and provide a list of such adjusters
  509  to the insured, office, or department upon request.
  510         (5) For purposes of this section, the term “insurer” means
  511  any residential property insurer.
  512         (6)(a)When providing a preliminary or partial estimate of
  513  damage regarding a claim, an insurer shall include with the
  514  estimate the following statement printed in at least 12-point
  515  bold, uppercase type: THIS ESTIMATE REPRESENTS OUR CURRENT
  520         (b)When providing a payment on a claim which is not the
  521  full and final payment for the claim, an insurer shall include
  522  with the payment the following statement printed in at least 12
  523  point bold, uppercase type: WE ARE CONTINUING TO EVALUATE YOUR
  527  US.
  528         (7)(a)(5)(a) Within 90 days after an insurer receives
  529  notice of an initial, reopened, or supplemental property
  530  insurance claim from a policyholder, the insurer shall pay or
  531  deny such claim or a portion of the claim unless the failure to
  532  pay is caused by factors beyond the control of the insurer which
  533  reasonably prevent such payment. Any payment of an initial or
  534  supplemental claim or portion of such claim made 90 days after
  535  the insurer receives notice of the claim, or made more than 15
  536  days after there are no longer factors beyond the control of the
  537  insurer which reasonably prevented such payment, whichever is
  538  later, bears interest at the rate set forth in s. 55.03.
  539  Interest begins to accrue from the date the insurer receives
  540  notice of the claim. The provisions of this subsection may not
  541  be waived, voided, or nullified by the terms of the insurance
  542  policy. If there is a right to prejudgment interest, the insured
  543  shall select whether to receive prejudgment interest or interest
  544  under this subsection. Interest is payable when the claim or
  545  portion of the claim is paid. Failure to comply with this
  546  subsection constitutes a violation of this code. However,
  547  failure to comply with this subsection does not form the sole
  548  basis for a private cause of action.
  549         (b) Notwithstanding subsection (5) (4), for purposes of
  550  this subsection, the term “claim” means any of the following:
  551         1. A claim under an insurance policy providing residential
  552  coverage as defined in s. 627.4025(1);
  553         2. A claim for structural or contents coverage under a
  554  commercial property insurance policy if the insured structure is
  555  10,000 square feet or less; or
  556         3. A claim for contents coverage under a commercial tenant
  557  policy if the insured premises is 10,000 square feet or less.
  558         (c) This subsection does shall not apply to claims under an
  559  insurance policy covering nonresidential commercial structures
  560  or contents in more than one state.
  561         (8)This section also applies to surplus lines insurers and
  562  surplus lines insurance authorized under ss. 626.913-626.937
  563  providing personal residential coverage.
  564         Section 19. Section 627.7031, Florida Statutes, is created
  565  to read:
  566         627.7031Foreign venue clauses prohibited.—After July 1,
  567  2021, a personal residential property insurance policy sold in
  568  this state, insuring only real property located in this state,
  569  may not require an insured to pursue dispute resolution through
  570  litigation, arbitration, or mediation outside this state. This
  571  section also applies to surplus lines insurers and surplus lines
  572  insurance authorized under ss. 626.913-626.937.
  573         Section 20. Effective January 1, 2022, section 627.7142,
  574  Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  575         627.7142 Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights.—An insurer
  576  issuing a personal lines residential property insurance policy
  577  in this state must provide a Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights to
  578  a policyholder within 14 days after receiving an initial
  579  communication with respect to a claim, unless the claim follows
  580  an event that is the subject of a declaration of a state of
  581  emergency by the Governor. The purpose of the bill of rights is
  582  to summarize, in simple, nontechnical terms, existing Florida
  583  law regarding the rights of a personal lines residential
  584  property insurance policyholder who files a claim of loss. The
  585  Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights is specific to the claims
  586  process and does not represent all of a policyholder’s rights
  587  under Florida law regarding the insurance policy. The Homeowner
  588  Claims Bill of Rights does not create a civil cause of action by
  589  any individual policyholder or class of policyholders against an
  590  insurer or insurers. The failure of an insurer to properly
  591  deliver the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights is subject to
  592  administrative enforcement by the office but is not admissible
  593  as evidence in a civil action against an insurer. The Homeowner
  594  Claims Bill of Rights does not enlarge, modify, or contravene
  595  statutory requirements, including, but not limited to, ss.
  596  626.854, 626.9541, 627.70131, 627.7015, and 627.7074, and does
  597  not prohibit an insurer from exercising its right to repair
  598  damaged property in compliance with the terms of an applicable
  599  policy or ss. 627.7011(5)(e) and 627.702(7). The Homeowner
  600  Claims Bill of Rights must state:
  602                          HOMEOWNER CLAIMS                         
  603                           BILL OF RIGHTS                          
  604         This Bill of Rights is specific to the claims process
  605         and does not represent all of your rights under
  606         Florida law regarding your policy. There are also
  607         exceptions to the stated timelines when conditions are
  608         beyond your insurance company’s control. This document
  609         does not create a civil cause of action by an
  610         individual policyholder, or a class of policyholders,
  611         against an insurer or insurers and does not prohibit
  612         an insurer from exercising its right to repair damaged
  613         property in compliance with the terms of an applicable
  614         policy.
  616         YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO:
  617         1. Receive from your insurance company an
  618         acknowledgment of your reported claim within 14 days
  619         after the time you communicated the claim.
  620         2. Upon written request, receive from your
  621         insurance company within 30 days after you have
  622         submitted a complete proof-of-loss statement to your
  623         insurance company, confirmation that your claim is
  624         covered in full, partially covered, or denied, or
  625         receive a written statement that your claim is being
  626         investigated.
  627         3. Within 90 days, subject to any dual interest
  628         noted in the policy, receive full settlement payment
  629         for your claim or payment of the undisputed portion of
  630         your claim, or your insurance company’s denial of your
  631         claim.
  632         4.Receive payment of interest, as provided in s.
  633         627.70131, Florida Statutes, from your insurance
  634         company, which begins accruing from the date your
  635         claim is filed if your insurance company does not pay
  636         full settlement of your initial, reopened, or
  637         supplemental claim or the undisputed portion of your
  638         claim or does not deny your claim within 90 days after
  639         your claim is filed. The interest, if applicable, must
  640         be paid when your claim or the undisputed portion of
  641         your claim is paid.
  642         5. Free mediation of your disputed claim by the
  643         Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of
  644         Consumer Services, under most circumstances and
  645         subject to certain restrictions.
  646         6.5. Neutral evaluation of your disputed claim,
  647         if your claim is for damage caused by a sinkhole and
  648         is covered by your policy.
  649         7.6. Contact the Florida Department of Financial
  650         Services, Division of Consumer Services’ toll-free
  651         helpline for assistance with any insurance claim or
  652         questions pertaining to the handling of your claim.
  653         You can reach the Helpline by phone at...(toll-free
  654         phone number)..., or you can seek assistance online at
  655         the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division
  656         of Consumer Services’ website at...(website
  657         address)....
  659         YOU ARE ADVISED TO:
  660         1. Contact your insurance company before entering
  661         into any contract for repairs to confirm any managed
  662         repair policy provisions or optional preferred
  663         vendors.
  664         2. Make and document emergency repairs that are
  665         necessary to prevent further damage. Keep the damaged
  666         property, if feasible, keep all receipts, and take
  667         photographs or video of damage before and after any
  668         repairs to provide to your insurer.
  669         3. Carefully read any contract that requires you
  670         to pay out-of-pocket expenses or a fee that is based
  671         on a percentage of the insurance proceeds that you
  672         will receive for repairing or replacing your property.
  673         4. Confirm that the contractor you choose is
  674         licensed to do business in Florida. You can verify a
  675         contractor’s license and check to see if there are any
  676         complaints against him or her by calling the Florida
  677         Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
  678         You should also ask the contractor for references from
  679         previous work.
  680         5. Require all contractors to provide proof of
  681         insurance before beginning repairs.
  682         6. Take precautions if the damage requires you to
  683         leave your home, including securing your property and
  684         turning off your gas, water, and electricity, and
  685         contacting your insurance company and provide a phone
  686         number where you can be reached.
  687         7. File all claims directly with your insurance
  688         company and be aware of contractors or repair vendors
  689         that offer incentives for free inspections or promise
  690         to coordinate with your insurance company to repair
  691         your home with no out-of-pocket expenses to you.
  692         Section 21. Paragraph (a) of subsection (1) and subsection
  693  (6) of section 631.57, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  694         631.57 Powers and duties of the association.—
  695         (1) The association shall:
  696         (a)1. Be obligated to the extent of the covered claims
  697  existing:
  698         a. Prior to adjudication of insolvency and arising within
  699  30 days after the determination of insolvency;
  700         b. Before the policy expiration date if less than 30 days
  701  after the determination; or
  702         c. Before the insured replaces the policy or causes its
  703  cancellation, if she or he does so within 30 days of the
  704  determination.
  705         2. The obligation under subparagraph 1. includes only the
  706  amount of each covered claim which is in excess of $100 and is
  707  less than $300,000, except that policies providing coverage for
  708  homeowner’s insurance must shall provide for an additional
  709  $200,000 for the portion of a covered claim which relates only
  710  to the damage to the structure and contents.
  711         3.a. Notwithstanding subparagraph 2., the obligation under
  712  subparagraph 1. for policies covering condominium associations
  713  or homeowners’ associations, which associations have a
  714  responsibility to provide insurance coverage on residential
  715  units within the association, includes shall include that amount
  716  of each covered property insurance claim which is less than
  717  $200,000 multiplied by the number of condominium units or other
  718  residential units; however, as to homeowners’ associations, this
  719  sub-subparagraph applies only to claims for damage or loss to
  720  residential units and structures attached to residential units.
  721         b. Notwithstanding sub-subparagraph a., the association has
  722  no obligation to pay covered claims that are to be paid from the
  723  proceeds of bonds issued under s. 631.695. However, the
  724  association shall assign and pledge the first available moneys
  725  from all or part of the assessments to be made under paragraph
  726  (3)(a) to or on behalf of the issuer of such bonds for the
  727  benefit of the holders of such bonds. The association shall
  728  administer any such covered claims and present valid covered
  729  claims for payment in accordance with the provisions of the
  730  assistance program in connection with which such bonds have been
  731  issued.
  732         4. In no event shall The association may not be obligated
  733  to a policyholder or claimant in an amount in excess of the
  734  obligation of the insolvent insurer under the policy from which
  735  the claim arises.
  736         (6) The association may extend the time limits specified in
  737  paragraph (1)(a) by up to an additional 60 days or waive the
  738  applicability of the $100 deductible specified in paragraph
  739  (1)(a) if the board determines it is that either or both such
  740  actions are necessary to facilitate the bulk assumption of
  741  obligations.
  742         Section 22. Subsection (2) of section 631.904, Florida
  743  Statutes, is amended to read:
  744         631.904 Definitions.—As used in this part, the term:
  745         (2) “Covered claim” means an unpaid claim, including a
  746  claim for return of unearned premiums, which arises out of, is
  747  within the coverage of, and is not in excess of the applicable
  748  limits of, an insurance policy to which this part applies, which
  749  policy was issued by an insurer and which claim is made on
  750  behalf of a claimant or insured who was a resident of this state
  751  at the time of the injury. The term “covered claim” includes
  752  unpaid claims under any employer liability coverage of a
  753  workers’ compensation policy limited to the lesser of $300,000
  754  or the limits of the policy. The term “covered claim” does not
  755  include any amount sought as a return of premium under any
  756  retrospective rating plan; any amount due any reinsurer,
  757  insurer, insurance pool, or underwriting association, as
  758  subrogation recoveries or otherwise; or any claim that would
  759  otherwise be a covered claim that has been rejected or denied by
  760  any other state guaranty fund based upon that state’s statutory
  761  exclusions, including, but not limited to, those based on
  762  coverage, policy type, or an insured’s net worth, except this
  763  exclusion from the definition of covered claim does not apply to
  764  employers who, prior to April 30, 2004, entered into an
  765  agreement with the corporation preserving the employer’s right
  766  to seek coverage of claims rejected by another state’s guaranty
  767  fund; or any return of premium resulting from a policy that was
  768  not in force on the date of the final order of liquidation.
  769  Member insurers have no right of subrogation against the insured
  770  of any insolvent insurer. This provision applies retroactively
  771  to cover claims of an insolvent self-insurance fund resulting
  772  from accidents or losses incurred prior to January 1, 1994,
  773  regardless of the date the petition in circuit court was filed
  774  alleging insolvency and the date the court entered an order
  775  appointing a receiver.
  776         Section 23. Except as otherwise expressly provided in this
  777  act, this act shall take effect upon becoming a law.