Florida Senate - 2021                        COMMITTEE AMENDMENT
       Bill No. PCS (146092) for CS for SB 1598
                              LEGISLATIVE ACTION                        
                    Senate             .             House              

       The Committee on Appropriations (Gruters) recommended the
    1         Senate Amendment (with directory and title amendments)
    3         Delete lines 303 - 691
    4  and insert:
    5  impose fines against any persons performing claims adjusting,
    6  soliciting, or any other services described in this section
    7  without the licensure required under this section or s. 626.112.
    8         (21)A public adjuster, public adjuster apprentice, or
    9  public adjusting firm that solicits a claim and does not enter
   10  into a contract with an insured or a third-party claimant
   11  pursuant to paragraph (10)(a) may not charge an insured or a
   12  third-party claimant or receive payment by any other source for
   13  any type of service related to the insured or third-party
   14  claimant’s claim.
   15         Section 11. Effective January 1, 2022, subsection (3) of
   16  section 626.916, Florida Statutes, is amended, and paragraph (f)
   17  is added to subsection (1) of that section, to read:
   18         626.916 Eligibility for export.—
   19         (1) No insurance coverage shall be eligible for export
   20  unless it meets all of the following conditions:
   21         (f)The insured has signed or otherwise provided documented
   22  acknowledgment of a disclosure in substantially the following
   23  form: “You are agreeing to place coverage in the surplus lines
   24  market. Coverage may be available in the admitted market.
   25  Persons insured by surplus lines carriers are not protected
   26  under the Florida Insurance Guaranty Act with respect to any
   27  right of recovery for the obligation of an insolvent unlicensed
   28  insurer.”
   29         (3)(a) Subsection (1) does not apply to wet marine and
   30  transportation or aviation risks that which are subject to s.
   31  626.917.
   32         (b) Paragraphs (1)(a)-(d) do not apply to classes of
   33  insurance which are subject to s. 627.062(3)(d)1. These classes
   34  may be exportable under the following conditions:
   35         1. The insurance must be placed only by or through a
   36  surplus lines agent licensed in this state;
   37         2. The insurer must be made eligible under s. 626.918; and
   38         3. The insured has complied with paragraph (1)(f) must sign
   39  a disclosure that substantially provides the following: “You are
   40  agreeing to place coverage in the surplus lines market. Superior
   41  coverage may be available in the admitted market and at a lesser
   42  cost. Persons insured by surplus lines carriers are not
   43  protected under the Florida Insurance Guaranty Act with respect
   44  to any right of recovery for the obligation of an insolvent
   45  unlicensed insurer.” If the disclosure notice is signed by the
   46  insured, the insured is presumed to have been informed and to
   47  know that other coverage may be available, and, with respect to
   48  the diligent-effort requirement under subsection (1), there is
   49  no liability on the part of, and no cause of action arises
   50  against, the retail agent presenting the form.
   51         Section 12. Paragraph (z) of subsection (1) of section
   52  626.9541, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
   53         626.9541 Unfair methods of competition and unfair or
   54  deceptive acts or practices defined.—
   56  ACTS.—The following are defined as unfair methods of competition
   57  and unfair or deceptive acts or practices:
   58         (z) Sliding.—Sliding is the act or practice of any of the
   59  following:
   60         1. Representing to the applicant that a specific ancillary
   61  coverage or product is required by law in conjunction with the
   62  purchase of insurance when such coverage or product is not
   63  required.;
   64         2. Representing to the applicant that a specific ancillary
   65  coverage or product is included in the policy applied for
   66  without an additional charge when such charge is required.; or
   67         3. Charging an applicant for a specific ancillary coverage
   68  or product, in addition to the cost of the insurance coverage
   69  applied for, without the informed consent of the applicant.
   70         4.Initiating, effectuating, binding, or otherwise issuing
   71  a policy of insurance without the prior informed consent of the
   72  owner of the property to be insured.
   73         5.Mailing, transmitting, or otherwise submitting by any
   74  means an invoice for premium payment to a mortgagee or escrow
   75  agent, for the purpose of effectuating an insurance policy,
   76  without the prior informed consent of the owner of the property
   77  to be insured. However, this subparagraph does not apply in
   78  cases in which the mortgagee or escrow agent is renewing
   79  insurance or issuing collateral protection insurance, as defined
   80  in s. 624.6085, pursuant to the mortgage or other pertinent loan
   81  documents or communications regarding the property.
   82         Section 13. Effective January 1, 2022, subsection (3) of
   83  section 626.9741, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
   84         626.9741 Use of credit reports and credit scores by
   85  insurers.—
   86         (3) An insurer must inform an applicant or insured, in the
   87  same medium as the application is taken, that a credit report or
   88  score is being requested for underwriting or rating purposes.
   89  The notification to the consumer must include the following
   90  language: “The Department of Financial Services offers free
   91  financial literacy programs to assist you with insurance-related
   92  questions, including how credit works and how credit scores are
   93  calculated. To learn more, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com.” An
   94  insurer that makes an adverse decision based, in whole or in
   95  part, upon a credit report must provide at no charge, a copy of
   96  the credit report to the applicant or insured or provide the
   97  applicant or insured with the name, address, and telephone
   98  number of the consumer reporting agency from which the insured
   99  or applicant may obtain the credit report. The insurer must
  100  provide notification to the consumer explaining the reasons for
  101  the adverse decision. The reasons must be provided in
  102  sufficiently clear and specific language so that a person can
  103  identify the basis for the insurer’s adverse decision. Such
  104  notification shall include a description of the four primary
  105  reasons, or such fewer number as existed, which were the primary
  106  influences of the adverse decision. The use of generalized terms
  107  such as “poor credit history,” “poor credit rating,” or “poor
  108  insurance score” does not meet the explanation requirements of
  109  this subsection. A credit score may not be used in underwriting
  110  or rating insurance unless the scoring process produces
  111  information in sufficient detail to permit compliance with the
  112  requirements of this subsection. It shall not be deemed an
  113  adverse decision if, due to the insured’s credit report or
  114  credit score, the insured continues to receive a less favorable
  115  rate or placement in a less favorable tier or company at the
  116  time of renewal except for renewals or reunderwriting required
  117  by this section.
  118         Section 14. Subsection (5) of section 626.9953, Florida
  119  Statutes, is amended to read:
  120         626.9953 Qualifications for registration; application
  121  required.—
  122         (5) An applicant must submit a set of his or her
  123  fingerprints to the department and pay the processing fee
  124  established under s. 624.501(23) s. 624.501(24). The department
  125  shall submit the applicant’s fingerprints to the Department of
  126  Law Enforcement for processing state criminal history records
  127  checks and local criminal records checks through local law
  128  enforcement agencies and for forwarding to the Federal Bureau of
  129  Investigation for national criminal history records checks. The
  130  fingerprints shall be taken by a law enforcement agency, a
  131  designated examination center, or another department-approved
  132  entity. The department may not approve an application for
  133  registration as a navigator if fingerprints have not been
  134  submitted.
  135         Section 15. Subsection (1) of section 626.9957, Florida
  136  Statutes, is amended to read:
  137         626.9957 Conduct prohibited; denial, revocation, or
  138  suspension of registration.—
  139         (1) As provided in s. 626.112, only a person licensed as an
  140  insurance agent or customer representative may engage in the
  141  solicitation of insurance. A person who engages in the
  142  solicitation of insurance as described in s. 626.112(1) without
  143  such license is subject to the penalties provided under s.
  144  626.112(10) s. 626.112(9).
  145         Section 16. Subsection (10) of section 627.062, Florida
  146  Statutes, is amended to read:
  147         627.062 Rate standards.—
  148         (10) Any interest paid pursuant to s. 627.70131(7) s.
  149  627.70131(5) may not be included in the insurer’s rate base and
  150  may not be used to justify a rate or rate change.
  151         Section 17. Section 627.502, Florida Statutes, is amended
  152  to read:
  153         627.502 “Industrial life insurance” defined; reporting;
  154  prohibition on new policies after a certain date.—
  155         (1) For the purposes of this code, “industrial life
  156  insurance” is that form of life insurance written under policies
  157  under which premiums are payable monthly or more often, bearing
  158  the words “industrial policy” or “weekly premium policy” or
  159  words of similar import imprinted upon the policies as part of
  160  the descriptive matter, and issued by an insurer that which, as
  161  to such industrial life insurance, is operating under a system
  162  of collecting a debit by its agent.
  163         (2) Every life insurer servicing existing transacting
  164  industrial life insurance shall report to the office all annual
  165  statement data regarding the exhibit of life insurance,
  166  including relevant information for industrial life insurance.
  167         (3)Beginning July 1, 2021, a life insurer may not write a
  168  new policy of industrial life insurance.
  169         Section 18. Effective January 1, 2022, section 627.70131,
  170  Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  171         627.70131 Insurer’s duty to acknowledge communications
  172  regarding claims; investigation.—
  173         (1)(a) Upon an insurer’s receiving a communication with
  174  respect to a claim, the insurer shall, within 14 calendar days,
  175  review and acknowledge receipt of such communication unless
  176  payment is made within that period of time or unless the failure
  177  to acknowledge is caused by factors beyond the control of the
  178  insurer which reasonably prevent such acknowledgment. If the
  179  acknowledgment is not in writing, a notification indicating
  180  acknowledgment shall be made in the insurer’s claim file and
  181  dated. A communication made to or by a representative an agent
  182  of an insurer with respect to a claim shall constitute
  183  communication to or by the insurer.
  184         (b) As used in this subsection, the term “representative”
  185  “agent” means any person to whom an insurer has granted
  186  authority or responsibility to receive or make such
  187  communications with respect to claims on behalf of the insurer.
  188         (c) This subsection does shall not apply to claimants
  189  represented by counsel beyond those communications necessary to
  190  provide forms and instructions.
  191         (2) Such acknowledgment must shall be responsive to the
  192  communication. If the communication constitutes a notification
  193  of a claim, unless the acknowledgment reasonably advises the
  194  claimant that the claim appears not to be covered by the
  195  insurer, the acknowledgment must shall provide necessary claim
  196  forms, and instructions, including an appropriate telephone
  197  number.
  198         (3)(a) Unless otherwise provided by the policy of insurance
  199  or by law, within 14 10 working days after an insurer receives
  200  proof of loss statements, the insurer shall begin such
  201  investigation as is reasonably necessary unless the failure to
  202  begin such investigation is caused by factors beyond the control
  203  of the insurer which reasonably prevent the commencement of such
  204  investigation.
  205         (b)If such investigation involves a physical inspection of
  206  the property, the licensed adjuster assigned by the insurer must
  207  provide the policyholder with a printed or electronic document
  208  containing his or her name and state adjuster license number.
  209         (c)Any subsequent communication with the policyholder
  210  regarding the claim must also include the name and license
  211  number of the adjuster communicating about the claim.
  212  Communication of the adjuster’s name and license number may be
  213  included with other information provided to the policyholder.
  214         (4) An insurer shall maintain a record or log of each
  215  adjuster who communicates with the policyholder as provided in
  216  paragraphs (3)(b) and (c) and provide a list of such adjusters
  217  to the insured, office, or department upon request.
  218         (5) For purposes of this section, the term “insurer” means
  219  any residential property insurer.
  220         (6)(a)When providing a preliminary or partial estimate of
  221  damage regarding a claim, an insurer shall include with the
  222  estimate the following statement printed in at least 12-point
  223  bold, uppercase type: THIS ESTIMATE REPRESENTS OUR CURRENT
  228         (b)When providing a payment on a claim which is not the
  229  full and final payment for the claim, an insurer shall include
  230  with the payment the following statement printed in at least 12
  231  point bold, uppercase type: WE ARE CONTINUING TO EVALUATE YOUR
  235  US.
  236         (7)(a)(5)(a) Within 90 days after an insurer receives
  237  notice of an initial, reopened, or supplemental property
  238  insurance claim from a policyholder, the insurer shall pay or
  239  deny such claim or a portion of the claim unless the failure to
  240  pay is caused by factors beyond the control of the insurer which
  241  reasonably prevent such payment. Any payment of an initial or
  242  supplemental claim or portion of such claim made 90 days after
  243  the insurer receives notice of the claim, or made more than 15
  244  days after there are no longer factors beyond the control of the
  245  insurer which reasonably prevented such payment, whichever is
  246  later, bears interest at the rate set forth in s. 55.03.
  247  Interest begins to accrue from the date the insurer receives
  248  notice of the claim. The provisions of this subsection may not
  249  be waived, voided, or nullified by the terms of the insurance
  250  policy. If there is a right to prejudgment interest, the insured
  251  shall select whether to receive prejudgment interest or interest
  252  under this subsection. Interest is payable when the claim or
  253  portion of the claim is paid. Failure to comply with this
  254  subsection constitutes a violation of this code. However,
  255  failure to comply with this subsection does not form the sole
  256  basis for a private cause of action.
  257         (b) Notwithstanding subsection (5) (4), for purposes of
  258  this subsection, the term “claim” means any of the following:
  259         1. A claim under an insurance policy providing residential
  260  coverage as defined in s. 627.4025(1);
  261         2. A claim for structural or contents coverage under a
  262  commercial property insurance policy if the insured structure is
  263  10,000 square feet or less; or
  264         3. A claim for contents coverage under a commercial tenant
  265  policy if the insured premises is 10,000 square feet or less.
  266         (c) This subsection does shall not apply to claims under an
  267  insurance policy covering nonresidential commercial structures
  268  or contents in more than one state.
  269         (8)This section also applies to surplus lines insurers and
  270  surplus lines insurance authorized under ss. 626.913-626.937
  271  providing residential coverage.
  272         Section 19. Effective January 1, 2022, section 627.7142,
  273  Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  274         627.7142 Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights.—An insurer
  275  issuing a personal lines residential property insurance policy
  276  in this state must provide a Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights to
  277  a policyholder within 14 days after receiving an initial
  278  communication with respect to a claim, unless the claim follows
  279  an event that is the subject of a declaration of a state of
  280  emergency by the Governor. The purpose of the bill of rights is
  281  to summarize, in simple, nontechnical terms, existing Florida
  282  law regarding the rights of a personal lines residential
  283  property insurance policyholder who files a claim of loss. The
  284  Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights is specific to the claims
  285  process and does not represent all of a policyholder’s rights
  286  under Florida law regarding the insurance policy. The Homeowner
  287  Claims Bill of Rights does not create a civil cause of action by
  288  any individual policyholder or class of policyholders against an
  289  insurer or insurers. The failure of an insurer to properly
  290  deliver the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights is subject to
  291  administrative enforcement by the office but is not admissible
  292  as evidence in a civil action against an insurer. The Homeowner
  293  Claims Bill of Rights does not enlarge, modify, or contravene
  294  statutory requirements, including, but not limited to, ss.
  295  626.854, 626.9541, 627.70131, 627.7015, and 627.7074, and does
  296  not prohibit an insurer from exercising its right to repair
  297  damaged property in compliance with the terms of an applicable
  298  policy or ss. 627.7011(5)(e) and 627.702(7). The Homeowner
  299  Claims Bill of Rights must state:
  301                          HOMEOWNER CLAIMS                         
  302                           BILL OF RIGHTS                          
  303         This Bill of Rights is specific to the claims process
  304         and does not represent all of your rights under
  305         Florida law regarding your policy. There are also
  306         exceptions to the stated timelines when conditions are
  307         beyond your insurance company’s control. This document
  308         does not create a civil cause of action by an
  309         individual policyholder, or a class of policyholders,
  310         against an insurer or insurers and does not prohibit
  311         an insurer from exercising its right to repair damaged
  312         property in compliance with the terms of an applicable
  313         policy.
  315         YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO:
  316         1. Receive from your insurance company an
  317         acknowledgment of your reported claim within 14 days
  318         after the time you communicated the claim.
  319         2. Upon written request, receive from your
  320         insurance company within 30 days after you have
  321         submitted a complete proof-of-loss statement to your
  322         insurance company, confirmation that your claim is
  323         covered in full, partially covered, or denied, or
  324         receive a written statement that your claim is being
  325         investigated.
  326         3. Within 90 days, subject to any dual interest
  327         noted in the policy, receive full settlement payment
  328         for your claim or payment of the undisputed portion of
  329         your claim, or your insurance company’s denial of your
  330         claim.
  331         4.Receive payment of interest, as provided in s.
  332         627.70131, Florida Statutes, from your insurance
  333         company, which begins accruing from the date your
  334         claim is filed if your insurance company does not pay
  335         full settlement of your initial, reopened, or
  336         supplemental claim or the undisputed portion of your
  337         claim or does not deny your claim within 90 days after
  338         your claim is filed. The interest, if applicable, must
  339         be paid when your claim or the undisputed portion of
  340         your claim is paid.
  341         5. Free mediation of your disputed claim by the
  342         Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of
  343         Consumer Services, under most circumstances and
  344         subject to certain restrictions.
  345         6.5. Neutral evaluation of your disputed claim,
  346         if your claim is for damage caused by a sinkhole and
  347         is covered by your policy.
  348         7.6. Contact the Florida Department of Financial
  349         Services, Division of Consumer Services’ toll-free
  350         helpline for assistance with any insurance claim or
  351         questions pertaining to the handling of your claim.
  352         You can reach the Helpline by phone at...(toll-free
  353         phone number)..., or you can seek assistance online at
  354         the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division
  355         of Consumer Services’ website at...(website
  356         address)....
  358         YOU ARE ADVISED TO:
  359         1. File all claims directly with your insurance
  360         company.
  361         2. Contact your insurance company before entering
  362         into any contract for repairs to confirm any managed
  363         repair policy provisions or optional preferred
  364         vendors.
  365         3.2. Make and document emergency repairs that are
  366         necessary to prevent further damage. Keep the damaged
  367         property, if feasible, keep all receipts, and take
  368         photographs or video of damage before and after any
  369         repairs to provide to your insurer.
  370         4.3. Carefully read any contract that requires
  371         you to pay out-of-pocket expenses or a fee that is
  372         based on a percentage of the insurance proceeds that
  373         you will receive for repairing or replacing your
  374         property.
  375         5.4. Confirm that the contractor you choose is
  376         licensed to do business in Florida. You can verify a
  377         contractor’s license and check to see if there are any
  378         complaints against him or her by calling the Florida
  379         Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
  380         You should also ask the contractor for references from
  381         previous work.
  382         6.5. Require all contractors to provide proof of
  383         insurance before beginning repairs.
  384         7.6. Take precautions if the damage requires you
  385         to leave your home, including securing your property
  386         and turning off your gas, water, and electricity, and
  387         contacting your insurance company and provide a phone
  388         number where you can be reached.
  390  ====== D I R E C T O R Y  C L A U S E  A M E N D M E N T ======
  391  And the directory clause is amended as follows:
  392         Delete lines 231 - 232
  393  and insert:
  394  section 626.854, Florida Statutes, are amended, and subsections
  395  (20) and (21) are added to that section, to read:
  397  ================= T I T L E  A M E N D M E N T ================
  398  And the title is amended as follows:
  399         Delete lines 50 - 79
  400  and insert:
  401         licensure; prohibiting specified persons from charging
  402         insureds or third-party claimants or receiving
  403         payments under certain circumstances; amending s.
  404         626.916, F.S.; revising disclosure requirements for
  405         certain classes of insurance before being eligible for
  406         export under the Surplus Lines Law; amending s.
  407         626.9541, F.S.; adding certain acts or practices to
  408         the definition of sliding; amending s. 626.9741, F.S.;
  409         requiring an insurer to include certain additional
  410         information when providing an applicant or insured
  411         with certain credit report or score information;
  412         amending ss. 626.9953, 626.9957, and 627.062, F.S.;
  413         conforming cross-references; amending s. 627.502,
  414         F.S.; prohibiting life insurers from writing new
  415         policies of industrial life insurance beginning on a
  416         certain date; making technical changes; amending s.
  417         627.70131, F.S.; providing that a communication made
  418         to or by an insurer’s representative, rather than to
  419         or by an insurer’s agent, constitutes communication to
  420         or by the insurer; defining the term “representative”,
  421         rather than “agent”; revising the timeframe for
  422         insurers to begin certain investigations; requiring an
  423         insurer-assigned licensed adjuster to provide the
  424         policyholder with certain information in certain
  425         investigations; requiring insurers to maintain certain
  426         records and provide certain lists upon request;
  427         requiring insurers to include specified notices when
  428         providing preliminary or partial damage estimates or
  429         claim payments; providing applicability; conforming
  430         provisions to changes made by the act;