Florida Senate - 2021                                    SB 1598
       By Senator Gruters
       23-00625B-21                                          20211598__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to consumer protection; amending s.
    3         501.0051, F.S.; prohibiting consumer reporting
    4         agencies from charging to reissue or provide a new
    5         unique personal identifier to a consumer for the
    6         removal of a security freeze; amending s. 624.307,
    7         F.S.; revising a requirement for persons licensed or
    8         authorized by the Department of Financial Services or
    9         the Office of Insurance Regulation to respond to the
   10         department’s Division of Consumer Services regarding
   11         consumer complaints; amending s. 624.501, F.S.;
   12         deleting a fee for adjusting firm licenses; amending
   13         s. 626.015, F.S.; defining the term “claims
   14         adjusting”; amending s. 626.112, F.S.; deleting an
   15         obsolete provision; prohibiting unlicensed activity by
   16         an adjusting firm; providing an exemption; providing
   17         an exemption from licensure for branch firms that meet
   18         certain criteria; providing an administrative penalty
   19         for failing to apply for certain licensure; providing
   20         a criminal penalty for aiding or abetting unlicensed
   21         activity; amending s. 626.602, F.S.; authorizing the
   22         department to disapprove the use of insurance agency
   23         names containing the words “Medicare” or “Medicaid”;
   24         providing an exception for certain insurance agencies
   25         for a certain period; providing for expiration of
   26         certain licenses on a certain date; amending s.
   27         626.621, F.S.; adding grounds on which the department
   28         may take certain actions against a license,
   29         appointment, or application of certain insurance
   30         representatives; amending s. 626.7315, F.S.;
   31         conforming a cross-reference; amending ss. 626.782 and
   32         626.783, F.S.; revising the definitions of the terms
   33         “industrial class insurer” and “ordinary-combination
   34         class insurer,” respectively, to conform to changes
   35         made by the act; amending s. 626.7845, F.S.;
   36         conforming a cross-reference; repealing s. 626.796,
   37         F.S., relating to the representation of multiple
   38         insurers in the same industrial debit territory;
   39         amending s. 626.8305, F.S.; conforming a cross
   40         reference; amending s. 626.854, F.S.; revising the
   41         timeframes in which an insured or a claimant may
   42         cancel a public adjuster’s contract to adjust a claim
   43         without penalty or obligation; requiring that public
   44         adjuster’s contracts include a specified disclosure;
   45         specifying requirements for written estimates of loss
   46         provided by public adjusters to claimants or insureds;
   47         prohibiting certain contractors from soliciting
   48         insureds to file insurance claims under certain
   49         circumstances; amending s. 626.916, F.S.; revising
   50         disclosure requirements for certain classes of
   51         insurance before being eligible for export under the
   52         Surplus Lines Law; amending s. 626.9541, F.S.; adding
   53         certain acts or practices to the definition of
   54         sliding; amending s. 626.9741, F.S.; requiring an
   55         insurer to include certain additional information when
   56         providing an applicant or insured with certain credit
   57         report or score information; amending s. 626.9953,
   58         F.S.; correcting a cross-reference; amending ss.
   59         626.9957 and 627.062, F.S.; conforming cross
   60         references; amending s. 627.502, F.S.; prohibiting
   61         life insurers from writing new policies of industrial
   62         life insurance beginning on a certain date; making
   63         technical changes; amending s. 627.70131, F.S.;
   64         providing that a communication made to or by an
   65         insurer’s representative, rather than to or by an
   66         insurer’s agent, constitutes communication to or by
   67         the insurer; revising the timeframe for insurers to
   68         begin certain investigations; requiring an insurer
   69         assigned licensed adjuster to provide the policyholder
   70         with certain information in certain investigations;
   71         requiring insurers to maintain certain records and
   72         provide certain lists upon request; requiring insurers
   73         to include specified notices when providing
   74         preliminary or partial damage estimates or claim
   75         payments; providing applicability; conforming
   76         provisions to changes made by the act; creating s.
   77         627.7031, F.S.; prohibiting foreign venue clauses in
   78         property insurance policies; providing applicability;
   79         amending s. 627.7142, F.S.; revising information
   80         contained in the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights;
   81         conforming provisions to changes made by the act;
   82         amending s. 631.57, F.S.; deleting a deductible on the
   83         obligation of the Florida Insurance Guaranty
   84         Association, Incorporated, as to certain covered
   85         claims; amending s. 631.904, F.S.; revising the
   86         definition of the term “covered claim”; deleting a
   87         requirement that a policy be in force on the date of
   88         the final order of liquidation; providing effective
   89         dates.
   91  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   93         Section 1. Paragraph (b) of subsection (9) of section
   94  501.0051, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
   95         501.0051 Protected consumer report security freeze.—
   96         (9)
   97         (b) A consumer reporting agency may not charge a fee to a
   98  reasonable fee, not to exceed $10, if the representative fails
   99  to retain the original unique personal identifier provided by
  100  the consumer reporting agency and the agency must reissue the
  101  unique personal identifier or to provide a new unique personal
  102  identifier to the consumer representative.
  103         Section 2. Paragraph (b) of subsection (10) of section
  104  624.307, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  105         624.307 General powers; duties.—
  106         (10)
  107         (b) Any person licensed or issued a certificate of
  108  authority by the department or the office shall respond, in
  109  writing, to the division within 20 days after receipt of a
  110  written request for documents and information from the division
  111  concerning a consumer complaint. The response must address the
  112  issues and allegations raised in the complaint and include any
  113  requested documents concerning the consumer complaint not
  114  subject to attorney-client or work-product privilege. The
  115  division may impose an administrative penalty for failure to
  116  comply with this paragraph of up to $2,500 per violation upon
  117  any entity licensed by the department or the office and $250 for
  118  the first violation, $500 for the second violation, and up to
  119  $1,000 for the third or subsequent violation upon any individual
  120  licensed by the department or the office.
  121         Section 3. Subsection (20) of section 624.501, Florida
  122  Statutes, is amended to read:
  123         624.501 Filing, license, appointment, and miscellaneous
  124  fees.—The department, commission, or office, as appropriate,
  125  shall collect in advance, and persons so served shall pay to it
  126  in advance, fees, licenses, and miscellaneous charges as
  127  follows:
  128         (20) Adjusting firm, original or renewal 3-year
  129  license...................................................$60.00
  130         Section 4. Present subsections (6) through (21) of section
  131  626.015, Florida Statutes, are redesignated as subsections (7)
  132  through (22), respectively, and a new subsection (6) is added to
  133  that section, to read:
  134         626.015 Definitions.—As used in this part:
  135         (6) “Claims adjusting” means directly or indirectly
  136  attempting or undertaking to ascertain and determine the amount
  137  of a claim, loss, or damage payable under an insurance contract
  138  or undertaking to negotiate or effect settlement of a claim,
  139  loss, or damage under an insurance contract, if such action
  140  results in payment to or receipt of money, commission, or any
  141  other thing of value by the party or parties rendering such
  142  service or persons affiliated with such party or parties. Claims
  143  adjusting also includes soliciting claims adjusting services as
  144  described in this chapter or soliciting an insured or
  145  policyholder to file an insurance claim. Claims adjusting does
  146  not include:
  147         (a)Paid services as a spokesperson used as part of a
  148  written or an electronic advertisement;
  149         (b)Paid services as a photographer or videographer used to
  150  capture images of damage;
  151         (c)Paid services to inventory personal property or
  152  business personal property; or
  153         (d)Discussion or explanation of a bid for construction or
  154  repair services with a property owner or the insurer of such
  155  property by a contractor licensed pursuant to part I of chapter
  156  489 or a subcontractor for a licensed contractor.
  157         Section 5. Present subsection (9) of section 626.112,
  158  Florida Statutes, is redesignated as subsection (10) and
  159  amended, a new subsection (9) is added to that section, and
  160  paragraph (d) of subsection (7) of that section is amended, to
  161  read:
  162         626.112 License and appointment required; agents, customer
  163  representatives, adjusters, insurance agencies, service
  164  representatives, managing general agents, insurance adjusting
  165  firms.—
  166         (7)
  167         (d)Effective October 1, 2015, the department must
  168  automatically convert the registration of an approved registered
  169  insurance agency to an insurance agency license.
  170         (9)(a)An individual, firm, partnership, corporation,
  171  association, or other entity may not act in its own name or
  172  under a trade name, directly or indirectly, as an adjusting firm
  173  unless it complies with s. 626.8696 with respect to possessing
  174  an adjusting firm license for each place of business at which it
  175  engages in an activity that may be performed only by a licensed
  176  insurance adjuster. However, an adjusting firm that is owned and
  177  operated by a single licensed adjuster conducting business in
  178  his or her individual name and not employing or otherwise using
  179  the services of or appointing other licensees is exempt from the
  180  adjusting firm licensing requirements of this subsection.
  181         (b)A branch place of business that is established by a
  182  licensed adjusting firm is considered a branch firm and is not
  183  required to be licensed if:
  184         1.It transacts business under the same name and federal
  185  tax identification number as the licensed adjusting firm;
  186         2.It has designated with the department a primary adjuster
  187  operating the location as required by s. 626.8695; and
  188         3.The address and telephone number of the branch location
  189  have been submitted to the department for inclusion in the
  190  licensing record of the licensed adjusting firm within 30 days
  191  after insurance transactions begin at the branch location.
  192         (c)If an adjusting firm is required to be licensed but
  193  fails to apply for licensure in accordance with this section,
  194  the department must impose an administrative penalty of up to
  195  $10,000 on the firm.
  196         (10)(9) Any person who knowingly transacts insurance or
  197  otherwise engages in insurance activities in this state without
  198  a license in violation of this section or who knowingly aids or
  199  abets an unlicensed person in transacting insurance or otherwise
  200  engaging in insurance activities in this state without a license
  201  commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in
  202  s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
  203         Section 6. Subsection (4) is added to section 626.602,
  204  Florida Statutes, to read:
  205         626.602 Insurance agency names; disapproval.—The department
  206  may disapprove the use of any true or fictitious name, other
  207  than the bona fide natural name of an individual, by any
  208  insurance agency on any of the following grounds:
  209         (4)The name contains the word “Medicare” or “Medicaid.” An
  210  insurance agency whose name contains the word “Medicare” or
  211  “Medicaid” but which is licensed as of July 1, 2021, may
  212  continue to use that name until June 30, 2023, provided that the
  213  agency’s license remains valid. If the agency’s license expires
  214  or is suspended or revoked, the agency may not be relicensed
  215  using that name. Licenses for agencies with names containing
  216  either of these words automatically expire on July 1, 2023,
  217  unless these words are removed from the name.
  218         Section 7. Subsections (16) and (17) are added to section
  219  626.621, Florida Statutes, to read:
  220         626.621 Grounds for discretionary refusal, suspension, or
  221  revocation of agent’s, adjuster’s, customer representative’s,
  222  service representative’s, or managing general agent’s license or
  223  appointment.—The department may, in its discretion, deny an
  224  application for, suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew or continue
  225  the license or appointment of any applicant, agent, adjuster,
  226  customer representative, service representative, or managing
  227  general agent, and it may suspend or revoke the eligibility to
  228  hold a license or appointment of any such person, if it finds
  229  that as to the applicant, licensee, or appointee any one or more
  230  of the following applicable grounds exist under circumstances
  231  for which such denial, suspension, revocation, or refusal is not
  232  mandatory under s. 626.611:
  233         (16)Taking an action that allows the personal financial or
  234  medical information of a consumer or customer to be made
  235  available or accessible to the general public, regardless of the
  236  format in which the record is stored.
  237         (17)Initiating in-person or telephone solicitation after 9
  238  p.m. or before 8 a.m. local time of the prospective customer
  239  unless requested by the prospective customer.
  240         Section 8. Section 626.7315, Florida Statutes, is amended
  241  to read:
  242         626.7315 Prohibition against the unlicensed transaction of
  243  general lines insurance.—With respect to any line of authority
  244  as defined in s. 626.015(8) s. 626.015(7), no individual shall,
  245  unless licensed as a general lines agent:
  246         (1) Solicit insurance or procure applications therefor;
  247         (2) In this state, receive or issue a receipt for any money
  248  on account of or for any insurer, or receive or issue a receipt
  249  for money from other persons to be transmitted to any insurer
  250  for a policy, contract, or certificate of insurance or any
  251  renewal thereof, even though the policy, certificate, or
  252  contract is not signed by him or her as agent or representative
  253  of the insurer, except as provided in s. 626.0428(1);
  254         (3) Directly or indirectly represent himself or herself to
  255  be an agent of any insurer or as an agent, to collect or forward
  256  any insurance premium, or to solicit, negotiate, effect,
  257  procure, receive, deliver, or forward, directly or indirectly,
  258  any insurance contract or renewal thereof or any endorsement
  259  relating to an insurance contract, or attempt to effect the
  260  same, of property or insurable business activities or interests,
  261  located in this state;
  262         (4) In this state, engage or hold himself or herself out as
  263  engaging in the business of analyzing or abstracting insurance
  264  policies or of counseling or advising or giving opinions, other
  265  than as a licensed attorney at law, relative to insurance or
  266  insurance contracts, for fee, commission, or other compensation,
  267  other than as a salaried bona fide full-time employee so
  268  counseling and advising his or her employer relative to the
  269  insurance interests of the employer and of the subsidiaries or
  270  business affiliates of the employer;
  271         (5) In any way, directly or indirectly, make or cause to be
  272  made, or attempt to make or cause to be made, any contract of
  273  insurance for or on account of any insurer;
  274         (6) Solicit, negotiate, or in any way, directly or
  275  indirectly, effect insurance contracts, if a member of a
  276  partnership or association, or a stockholder, officer, or agent
  277  of a corporation which holds an agency appointment from any
  278  insurer; or
  279         (7) Receive or transmit applications for suretyship, or
  280  receive for delivery bonds founded on applications forwarded
  281  from this state, or otherwise procure suretyship to be effected
  282  by a surety insurer upon the bonds of persons in this state or
  283  upon bonds given to persons in this state.
  284         Section 9. Section 626.782, Florida Statutes, is amended to
  285  read:
  286         626.782 “Industrial class insurer” defined.—An “industrial
  287  class insurer” is an insurer collecting premiums on policies of
  288  writing industrial life insurance, as defined in s. 627.502,
  289  written before July 1, 2021, and as to such insurance, operates
  290  under a system of collecting a debit by its agent.
  291         Section 10. Section 626.783, Florida Statutes, is amended
  292  to read:
  293         626.783 “Ordinary-combination class insurer” defined.—An
  294  “ordinary-combination class insurer” is an insurer writing both
  295  ordinary class insurance and collecting premiums on existing
  296  industrial life class insurance as defined by s. 627.502.
  297         Section 11. Subsection (2) of section 626.7845, Florida
  298  Statutes, is amended to read:
  299         626.7845 Prohibition against unlicensed transaction of life
  300  insurance.—
  301         (2) Except as provided in s. 626.112(6), with respect to
  302  any line of authority specified in s. 626.015(13) s.
  303  626.015(12), an individual may not, unless licensed as a life
  304  agent:
  305         (a) Solicit insurance or annuities or procure applications;
  306         (b) In this state, engage or hold himself or herself out as
  307  engaging in the business of analyzing or abstracting insurance
  308  policies or of counseling or advising or giving opinions to
  309  persons relative to insurance or insurance contracts, unless the
  310  individual is:
  311         1. A consulting actuary advising insurers;
  312         2. An employee of a labor union, association, employer, or
  313  other business entity, or the subsidiaries and affiliates of
  314  each, who counsels and advises such entity or entities relative
  315  to their interests and those of their members or employees under
  316  insurance benefit plans; or
  317         3. A trustee advising a settlor, a beneficiary, or a person
  318  regarding his or her interests in a trust, relative to insurance
  319  benefit plans; or
  320         (c) In this state, from this state, or with a resident of
  321  this state, offer or attempt to negotiate on behalf of another
  322  person a viatical settlement contract as defined in s. 626.9911.
  323         Section 12. Section 626.796, Florida Statutes, is repealed.
  324         Section 13. Section 626.8305, Florida Statutes, is amended
  325  to read:
  326         626.8305 Prohibition against the unlicensed transaction of
  327  health insurance.—Except as provided in s. 626.112(6), with
  328  respect to any line of authority specified in s. 626.015(9) s.
  329  626.015(8), an individual may not, unless licensed as a health
  330  agent:
  331         (1) Solicit insurance or procure applications; or
  332         (2) In this state, engage or hold himself or herself out as
  333  engaging in the business of analyzing or abstracting insurance
  334  policies or of counseling or advising or giving opinions to
  335  persons relative to insurance contracts, unless the individual
  336  is:
  337         (a) A consulting actuary advising insurers;
  338         (b) An employee of a labor union, association, employer, or
  339  other business entity, or the subsidiaries and affiliates of
  340  each, who counsels and advises such entity or entities relative
  341  to their interests and those of their members or employees under
  342  insurance benefit plans; or
  343         (c) A trustee advising a settlor, a beneficiary, or a
  344  person regarding his or her interests in a trust, relative to
  345  insurance benefit plans.
  346         Section 14. Subsections (6), (11), and (15) of section
  347  626.854, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  348         626.854 “Public adjuster” defined; prohibitions.—The
  349  Legislature finds that it is necessary for the protection of the
  350  public to regulate public insurance adjusters and to prevent the
  351  unauthorized practice of law.
  352         (6) An insured or claimant may cancel a public adjuster’s
  353  contract to adjust a claim without penalty or obligation within
  354  10 calendar 3 business days after the date on which the contract
  355  is executed or within 3 business days after the date on which
  356  the insured or claimant has notified the insurer of the claim,
  357  whichever is later. The public adjuster’s contract must contain
  358  the following language in minimum 18-point bold type: “You, the
  359  insured, may cancel this contract for any reason without penalty
  360  or obligation to you within 10 days after the date of this
  361  contract by providing notice to ...(name of public adjuster)...,
  362  submitted in writing and sent by certified mail, return receipt
  363  requested, or other form of mailing that provides proof thereof,
  364  at the address specified in the contract disclose to the insured
  365  or claimant his or her right to cancel the contract and advise
  366  the insured or claimant that notice of cancellation must be
  367  submitted in writing and sent by certified mail, return receipt
  368  requested, or other form of mailing that provides proof thereof,
  369  to the public adjuster at the address specified in the contract;
  370  provided, during any state of emergency as declared by the
  371  Governor and for 1 year after the date of loss, the insured or
  372  claimant has 5 business days after the date on which the
  373  contract is executed to cancel a public adjuster’s contract.
  374         (11) Each public adjuster must provide to the claimant or
  375  insured a written estimate of the loss to assist in the
  376  submission of a proof of loss or any other claim for payment of
  377  insurance proceeds within 60 days after the date of the
  378  contract. The written estimate must include an itemized, per
  379  unit estimate of the repairs, including itemized information on
  380  equipment, materials, labor, and supplies, in accordance with
  381  accepted industry standards. The public adjuster shall retain
  382  such written estimate for at least 5 years and shall make the
  383  estimate available to the claimant or insured, the insurer, and
  384  the department upon request.
  385         (15) A licensed contractor under part I of chapter 489, or
  386  a subcontractor, may not adjust a claim on behalf of an insured,
  387  or solicit an insured to file a claim, unless licensed and
  388  compliant as a public adjuster under this chapter. However, the
  389  contractor may discuss or explain a bid for construction or
  390  repair of covered property with the residential property owner
  391  who has suffered loss or damage covered by a property insurance
  392  policy, or the insurer of such property, if the contractor is
  393  doing so for the usual and customary fees applicable to the work
  394  to be performed as stated in the contract between the contractor
  395  and the insured.
  396         Section 15. Effective January 1, 2022, subsection (3) of
  397  section 626.916, Florida Statutes, is amended, and paragraph (f)
  398  is added to subsection (1) of that section, to read:
  399         626.916 Eligibility for export.—
  400         (1) No insurance coverage shall be eligible for export
  401  unless it meets all of the following conditions:
  402         (f)The insured has signed or otherwise provided documented
  403  acknowledgment of a disclosure in substantially the following
  404  form: “You are agreeing to place coverage in the surplus lines
  405  market. Coverage may be available in the admitted market.
  406  Persons insured by surplus lines carriers are not protected
  407  under the Florida Insurance Guaranty Act with respect to any
  408  right of recovery for the obligation of an insolvent unlicensed
  409  insurer.”
  410         (3)(a) Subsection (1) does not apply to wet marine and
  411  transportation or aviation risks that which are subject to s.
  412  626.917.
  413         (b) Paragraphs (1)(a)-(d) do not apply to classes of
  414  insurance which are subject to s. 627.062(3)(d)1. These classes
  415  may be exportable under the following conditions:
  416         1. The insurance must be placed only by or through a
  417  surplus lines agent licensed in this state;
  418         2. The insurer must be made eligible under s. 626.918; and
  419         3. The insured has complied with paragraph (1)(f) must sign
  420  a disclosure that substantially provides the following: “You are
  421  agreeing to place coverage in the surplus lines market. Superior
  422  coverage may be available in the admitted market and at a lesser
  423  cost. Persons insured by surplus lines carriers are not
  424  protected under the Florida Insurance Guaranty Act with respect
  425  to any right of recovery for the obligation of an insolvent
  426  unlicensed insurer.” If the disclosure notice is signed by the
  427  insured, the insured is presumed to have been informed and to
  428  know that other coverage may be available, and, with respect to
  429  the diligent-effort requirement under subsection (1), there is
  430  no liability on the part of, and no cause of action arises
  431  against, the retail agent presenting the form.
  432         Section 16. Paragraph (z) of subsection (1) of section
  433  626.9541, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  434         626.9541 Unfair methods of competition and unfair or
  435  deceptive acts or practices defined.—
  437  ACTS.—The following are defined as unfair methods of competition
  438  and unfair or deceptive acts or practices:
  439         (z) Sliding.—Sliding is the act or practice of any of the
  440  following:
  441         1. Representing to the applicant that a specific ancillary
  442  coverage or product is required by law in conjunction with the
  443  purchase of insurance when such coverage or product is not
  444  required.;
  445         2. Representing to the applicant that a specific ancillary
  446  coverage or product is included in the policy applied for
  447  without an additional charge when such charge is required.; or
  448         3. Charging an applicant for a specific ancillary coverage
  449  or product, in addition to the cost of the insurance coverage
  450  applied for, without the informed consent of the applicant.
  451         4.Initiating, effectuating, binding, or otherwise issuing
  452  a policy of insurance without the prior informed consent of the
  453  owner of the property to be insured.
  454         5.Mailing, transmitting, or otherwise submitting by any
  455  means an invoice for premium payment to a mortgagee or escrow
  456  agent, for the purpose of effectuating an insurance policy,
  457  without the prior informed consent of the owner of the property
  458  to be insured. However, this subparagraph does not apply in
  459  cases in which the mortgagee or escrow agent is renewing
  460  insurance or issuing collateral protection insurance, as defined
  461  in s. 624.6085, pursuant to the mortgage or other pertinent loan
  462  documents or communications regarding the property.
  463         Section 17. Effective January 1, 2022, subsection (3) of
  464  section 626.9741, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  465         626.9741 Use of credit reports and credit scores by
  466  insurers.—
  467         (3) An insurer must inform an applicant or insured, in the
  468  same medium as the application is taken, that a credit report or
  469  score is being requested for underwriting or rating purposes.
  470  The notification to the consumer must include the following
  471  language: “The Department of Financial Services offers free
  472  financial literacy programs to assist you with insurance-related
  473  questions, including how credit works and how credit scores are
  474  calculated. To learn more, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com.” An
  475  insurer that makes an adverse decision based, in whole or in
  476  part, upon a credit report must provide at no charge, a copy of
  477  the credit report to the applicant or insured or provide the
  478  applicant or insured with the name, address, and telephone
  479  number of the consumer reporting agency from which the insured
  480  or applicant may obtain the credit report. The insurer must
  481  provide notification to the consumer explaining the reasons for
  482  the adverse decision. The reasons must be provided in
  483  sufficiently clear and specific language so that a person can
  484  identify the basis for the insurer’s adverse decision. Such
  485  notification shall include a description of the four primary
  486  reasons, or such fewer number as existed, which were the primary
  487  influences of the adverse decision. The use of generalized terms
  488  such as “poor credit history,” “poor credit rating,” or “poor
  489  insurance score” does not meet the explanation requirements of
  490  this subsection. A credit score may not be used in underwriting
  491  or rating insurance unless the scoring process produces
  492  information in sufficient detail to permit compliance with the
  493  requirements of this subsection. It shall not be deemed an
  494  adverse decision if, due to the insured’s credit report or
  495  credit score, the insured continues to receive a less favorable
  496  rate or placement in a less favorable tier or company at the
  497  time of renewal except for renewals or reunderwriting required
  498  by this section.
  499         Section 18. Subsection (5) of section 626.9953, Florida
  500  Statutes, is amended to read:
  501         626.9953 Qualifications for registration; application
  502  required.—
  503         (5) An applicant must submit a set of his or her
  504  fingerprints to the department and pay the processing fee
  505  established under s. 624.501(23) s. 624.501(24). The department
  506  shall submit the applicant’s fingerprints to the Department of
  507  Law Enforcement for processing state criminal history records
  508  checks and local criminal records checks through local law
  509  enforcement agencies and for forwarding to the Federal Bureau of
  510  Investigation for national criminal history records checks. The
  511  fingerprints shall be taken by a law enforcement agency, a
  512  designated examination center, or another department-approved
  513  entity. The department may not approve an application for
  514  registration as a navigator if fingerprints have not been
  515  submitted.
  516         Section 19. Subsection (1) of section 626.9957, Florida
  517  Statutes, is amended to read:
  518         626.9957 Conduct prohibited; denial, revocation, or
  519  suspension of registration.—
  520         (1) As provided in s. 626.112, only a person licensed as an
  521  insurance agent or customer representative may engage in the
  522  solicitation of insurance. A person who engages in the
  523  solicitation of insurance as described in s. 626.112(1) without
  524  such license is subject to the penalties provided under s.
  525  626.112(10) s. 626.112(9).
  526         Section 20. Subsection (10) of section 627.062, Florida
  527  Statutes, is amended to read:
  528         627.062 Rate standards.—
  529         (10) Any interest paid pursuant to s. 627.70131(7) s.
  530  627.70131(5) may not be included in the insurer’s rate base and
  531  may not be used to justify a rate or rate change.
  532         Section 21. Section 627.502, Florida Statutes, is amended
  533  to read:
  534         627.502 “Industrial life insurance” defined; reporting;
  535  prohibition on new policies after a certain date.—
  536         (1) For the purposes of this code, “industrial life
  537  insurance” is that form of life insurance written under policies
  538  under which premiums are payable monthly or more often, bearing
  539  the words “industrial policy” or “weekly premium policy” or
  540  words of similar import imprinted upon the policies as part of
  541  the descriptive matter, and issued by an insurer that which, as
  542  to such industrial life insurance, is operating under a system
  543  of collecting a debit by its agent.
  544         (2) Every life insurer servicing existing transacting
  545  industrial life insurance shall report to the office all annual
  546  statement data regarding the exhibit of life insurance,
  547  including relevant information for industrial life insurance.
  548         (3)Beginning July 1, 2021, a life insurer may not write a
  549  new policy of industrial life insurance.
  550         Section 22. Effective January 1, 2022, section 627.70131,
  551  Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  552         627.70131 Insurer’s duty to acknowledge communications
  553  regarding claims; investigation.—
  554         (1)(a) Upon an insurer’s receiving a communication with
  555  respect to a claim, the insurer shall, within 14 calendar days,
  556  review and acknowledge receipt of such communication unless
  557  payment is made within that period of time or unless the failure
  558  to acknowledge is caused by factors beyond the control of the
  559  insurer which reasonably prevent such acknowledgment. If the
  560  acknowledgment is not in writing, a notification indicating
  561  acknowledgment shall be made in the insurer’s claim file and
  562  dated. A communication made to or by a representative an agent
  563  of an insurer with respect to a claim shall constitute
  564  communication to or by the insurer.
  565         (b) As used in this subsection, the term “representative”
  566  “agent” means any person to whom an insurer has granted
  567  authority or responsibility to receive or make such
  568  communications with respect to claims on behalf of the insurer.
  569         (c) This subsection does shall not apply to claimants
  570  represented by counsel beyond those communications necessary to
  571  provide forms and instructions.
  572         (2) Such acknowledgment must shall be responsive to the
  573  communication. If the communication constitutes a notification
  574  of a claim, unless the acknowledgment reasonably advises the
  575  claimant that the claim appears not to be covered by the
  576  insurer, the acknowledgment must shall provide necessary claim
  577  forms, and instructions, including an appropriate telephone
  578  number.
  579         (3)(a) Unless otherwise provided by the policy of insurance
  580  or by law, within 14 10 working days after an insurer receives
  581  proof of loss statements, the insurer shall begin such
  582  investigation as is reasonably necessary unless the failure to
  583  begin such investigation is caused by factors beyond the control
  584  of the insurer which reasonably prevent the commencement of such
  585  investigation.
  586         (b)If such investigation involves a physical inspection of
  587  the property, the licensed adjuster assigned by the insurer must
  588  provide the policyholder with a printed or electronic document
  589  containing his or her name and state adjuster license number.
  590         (c)Any subsequent communication with the policyholder
  591  regarding the claim must also include the name and license
  592  number of the adjuster communicating about the claim.
  593  Communication of the adjuster’s name and license number may be
  594  included with other information provided to the policyholder.
  595         (4) An insurer shall maintain a record or log of each
  596  adjuster who communicates with the policyholder as provided in
  597  paragraphs (3)(b) and (c) and provide a list of such adjusters
  598  to the insured, office, or department upon request.
  599         (5) For purposes of this section, the term “insurer” means
  600  any residential property insurer.
  601         (6)(a)When providing a preliminary or partial estimate of
  602  damage regarding a claim, an insurer shall include with the
  603  estimate the following statement printed in at least 12-point
  604  bold, uppercase type: THIS ESTIMATE REPRESENTS OUR CURRENT
  609         (b)When providing a payment on a claim which is not the
  610  full and final payment for the claim, an insurer shall include
  611  with the payment the following statement printed in at least 12
  612  point bold, uppercase type: WE ARE CONTINUING TO EVALUATE YOUR
  616  US.
  617         (7)(a)(5)(a) Within 90 days after an insurer receives
  618  notice of an initial, reopened, or supplemental property
  619  insurance claim from a policyholder, the insurer shall pay or
  620  deny such claim or a portion of the claim unless the failure to
  621  pay is caused by factors beyond the control of the insurer which
  622  reasonably prevent such payment. Any payment of an initial or
  623  supplemental claim or portion of such claim made 90 days after
  624  the insurer receives notice of the claim, or made more than 15
  625  days after there are no longer factors beyond the control of the
  626  insurer which reasonably prevented such payment, whichever is
  627  later, bears interest at the rate set forth in s. 55.03.
  628  Interest begins to accrue from the date the insurer receives
  629  notice of the claim. The provisions of this subsection may not
  630  be waived, voided, or nullified by the terms of the insurance
  631  policy. If there is a right to prejudgment interest, the insured
  632  shall select whether to receive prejudgment interest or interest
  633  under this subsection. Interest is payable when the claim or
  634  portion of the claim is paid. Failure to comply with this
  635  subsection constitutes a violation of this code. However,
  636  failure to comply with this subsection does not form the sole
  637  basis for a private cause of action.
  638         (b) Notwithstanding subsection (5) (4), for purposes of
  639  this subsection, the term “claim” means any of the following:
  640         1. A claim under an insurance policy providing residential
  641  coverage as defined in s. 627.4025(1);
  642         2. A claim for structural or contents coverage under a
  643  commercial property insurance policy if the insured structure is
  644  10,000 square feet or less; or
  645         3. A claim for contents coverage under a commercial tenant
  646  policy if the insured premises is 10,000 square feet or less.
  647         (c) This subsection does shall not apply to claims under an
  648  insurance policy covering nonresidential commercial structures
  649  or contents in more than one state.
  650         (8)This section also applies to surplus lines insurers and
  651  surplus lines insurance authorized under ss. 626.913-626.937
  652  providing residential coverage.
  653         Section 23. Section 627.7031, Florida Statutes, is created
  654  to read:
  655         627.7031Foreign venue clauses prohibited.—After July 1,
  656  2021, a personal residential property insurance policy sold in
  657  this state, insuring only real property located in this state,
  658  may not require an insured to pursue dispute resolution through
  659  litigation, arbitration, or mediation outside this state. This
  660  section also applies to surplus lines insurers and surplus lines
  661  insurance authorized under ss. 626.913-626.937.
  662         Section 24. Effective January 1, 2022, section 627.7142,
  663  Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  664         627.7142 Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights.—An insurer
  665  issuing a personal lines residential property insurance policy
  666  in this state must provide a Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights to
  667  a policyholder within 14 days after receiving an initial
  668  communication with respect to a claim, unless the claim follows
  669  an event that is the subject of a declaration of a state of
  670  emergency by the Governor. The purpose of the bill of rights is
  671  to summarize, in simple, nontechnical terms, existing Florida
  672  law regarding the rights of a personal lines residential
  673  property insurance policyholder who files a claim of loss. The
  674  Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights is specific to the claims
  675  process and does not represent all of a policyholder’s rights
  676  under Florida law regarding the insurance policy. The Homeowner
  677  Claims Bill of Rights does not create a civil cause of action by
  678  any individual policyholder or class of policyholders against an
  679  insurer or insurers. The failure of an insurer to properly
  680  deliver the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights is subject to
  681  administrative enforcement by the office but is not admissible
  682  as evidence in a civil action against an insurer. The Homeowner
  683  Claims Bill of Rights does not enlarge, modify, or contravene
  684  statutory requirements, including, but not limited to, ss.
  685  626.854, 626.9541, 627.70131, 627.7015, and 627.7074, and does
  686  not prohibit an insurer from exercising its right to repair
  687  damaged property in compliance with the terms of an applicable
  688  policy or ss. 627.7011(5)(e) and 627.702(7). The Homeowner
  689  Claims Bill of Rights must state:
  691                          HOMEOWNER CLAIMS                         
  692                           BILL OF RIGHTS                          
  693         This Bill of Rights is specific to the claims process
  694         and does not represent all of your rights under
  695         Florida law regarding your policy. There are also
  696         exceptions to the stated timelines when conditions are
  697         beyond your insurance company’s control. This document
  698         does not create a civil cause of action by an
  699         individual policyholder, or a class of policyholders,
  700         against an insurer or insurers and does not prohibit
  701         an insurer from exercising its right to repair damaged
  702         property in compliance with the terms of an applicable
  703         policy.
  705         YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO:
  706         1. Receive from your insurance company an
  707         acknowledgment of your reported claim within 14 days
  708         after the time you communicated the claim.
  709         2. Upon written request, receive from your
  710         insurance company within 30 days after you have
  711         submitted a complete proof-of-loss statement to your
  712         insurance company, confirmation that your claim is
  713         covered in full, partially covered, or denied, or
  714         receive a written statement that your claim is being
  715         investigated.
  716         3. Within 90 days, subject to any dual interest
  717         noted in the policy, receive full settlement payment
  718         for your claim or payment of the undisputed portion of
  719         your claim, or your insurance company’s denial of your
  720         claim.
  721         4.Receive payment of interest, as provided in s.
  722         627.70131, Florida Statutes, from your insurance
  723         company, which begins accruing from the date your
  724         claim is filed if your insurance company does not pay
  725         full settlement of your initial, reopened, or
  726         supplemental claim or the undisputed portion of your
  727         claim or does not deny your claim within 90 days after
  728         your claim is filed. The interest, if applicable, must
  729         be paid when your claim or undisputed portion of your
  730         claim is paid.
  731         5. Free mediation of your disputed claim by the
  732         Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of
  733         Consumer Services, under most circumstances and
  734         subject to certain restrictions.
  735         6.5. Neutral evaluation of your disputed claim,
  736         if your claim is for damage caused by a sinkhole and
  737         is covered by your policy.
  738         7.6. Contact the Florida Department of Financial
  739         Services, Division of Consumer Services’ toll-free
  740         helpline for assistance with any insurance claim or
  741         questions pertaining to the handling of your claim.
  742         You can reach the Helpline by phone at...(toll-free
  743         phone number)..., or you can seek assistance online at
  744         the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division
  745         of Consumer Services’ website at...(website
  746         address)....
  748         YOU ARE ADVISED TO:
  749         1. Contact your insurance company before entering
  750         into any contract for repairs to confirm any managed
  751         repair policy provisions or optional preferred
  752         vendors.
  753         2. Make and document emergency repairs that are
  754         necessary to prevent further damage. Keep the damaged
  755         property, if feasible, keep all receipts, and take
  756         photographs or video of damage before and after any
  757         repairs to provide to your insurer.
  758         3. Carefully read any contract that requires you
  759         to pay out-of-pocket expenses or a fee that is based
  760         on a percentage of the insurance proceeds that you
  761         will receive for repairing or replacing your property.
  762         4. Confirm that the contractor you choose is
  763         licensed to do business in Florida. You can verify a
  764         contractor’s license and check to see if there are any
  765         complaints against him or her by calling the Florida
  766         Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
  767         You should also ask the contractor for references from
  768         previous work.
  769         5. Require all contractors to provide proof of
  770         insurance before beginning repairs.
  771         6. Take precautions if the damage requires you to
  772         leave your home, including securing your property and
  773         turning off your gas, water, and electricity, and
  774         contacting your insurance company and provide a phone
  775         number where you can be reached.
  776         Section 25. Paragraph (a) of subsection (1) and subsection
  777  (6) of section 631.57, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  778         631.57 Powers and duties of the association.—
  779         (1) The association shall:
  780         (a)1. Be obligated to the extent of the covered claims
  781  existing:
  782         a. Prior to adjudication of insolvency and arising within
  783  30 days after the determination of insolvency;
  784         b. Before the policy expiration date if less than 30 days
  785  after the determination; or
  786         c. Before the insured replaces the policy or causes its
  787  cancellation, if she or he does so within 30 days of the
  788  determination.
  789         2. The obligation under subparagraph 1. includes only the
  790  amount of each covered claim which is in excess of $100 and is
  791  less than $300,000, except that policies providing coverage for
  792  homeowner’s insurance must shall provide for an additional
  793  $200,000 for the portion of a covered claim which relates only
  794  to the damage to the structure and contents.
  795         3.a. Notwithstanding subparagraph 2., the obligation under
  796  subparagraph 1. for policies covering condominium associations
  797  or homeowners’ associations, which associations have a
  798  responsibility to provide insurance coverage on residential
  799  units within the association, includes shall include that amount
  800  of each covered property insurance claim which is less than
  801  $200,000 multiplied by the number of condominium units or other
  802  residential units; however, as to homeowners’ associations, this
  803  sub-subparagraph applies only to claims for damage or loss to
  804  residential units and structures attached to residential units.
  805         b. Notwithstanding sub-subparagraph a., the association has
  806  no obligation to pay covered claims that are to be paid from the
  807  proceeds of bonds issued under s. 631.695. However, the
  808  association shall assign and pledge the first available moneys
  809  from all or part of the assessments to be made under paragraph
  810  (3)(a) to or on behalf of the issuer of such bonds for the
  811  benefit of the holders of such bonds. The association shall
  812  administer any such covered claims and present valid covered
  813  claims for payment in accordance with the provisions of the
  814  assistance program in connection with which such bonds have been
  815  issued.
  816         4. In no event shall The association may not be obligated
  817  to a policyholder or claimant in an amount in excess of the
  818  obligation of the insolvent insurer under the policy from which
  819  the claim arises.
  820         (6) The association may extend the time limits specified in
  821  paragraph (1)(a) by up to an additional 60 days or waive the
  822  applicability of the $100 deductible specified in paragraph
  823  (1)(a) if the board determines it is that either or both such
  824  actions are necessary to facilitate the bulk assumption of
  825  obligations.
  826         Section 26. Subsection (2) of section 631.904, Florida
  827  Statutes, is amended to read:
  828         631.904 Definitions.—As used in this part, the term:
  829         (2) “Covered claim” means an unpaid claim, including a
  830  claim for return of unearned premiums, which arises out of, is
  831  within the coverage of, and is not in excess of the applicable
  832  limits of, an insurance policy to which this part applies, which
  833  policy was issued by an insurer and which claim is made on
  834  behalf of a claimant or insured who was a resident of this state
  835  at the time of the injury. The term “covered claim” includes
  836  unpaid claims under any employer liability coverage of a
  837  workers’ compensation policy limited to the lesser of $300,000
  838  or the limits of the policy. The term “covered claim” does not
  839  include any amount sought as a return of premium under any
  840  retrospective rating plan; any amount due any reinsurer,
  841  insurer, insurance pool, or underwriting association, as
  842  subrogation recoveries or otherwise; or any claim that would
  843  otherwise be a covered claim that has been rejected or denied by
  844  any other state guaranty fund based upon that state’s statutory
  845  exclusions, including, but not limited to, those based on
  846  coverage, policy type, or an insured’s net worth, except this
  847  exclusion from the definition of covered claim does not apply to
  848  employers who, prior to April 30, 2004, entered into an
  849  agreement with the corporation preserving the employer’s right
  850  to seek coverage of claims rejected by another state’s guaranty
  851  fund; or any return of premium resulting from a policy that was
  852  not in force on the date of the final order of liquidation.
  853  Member insurers have no right of subrogation against the insured
  854  of any insolvent insurer. This provision applies retroactively
  855  to cover claims of an insolvent self-insurance fund resulting
  856  from accidents or losses incurred prior to January 1, 1994,
  857  regardless of the date the petition in circuit court was filed
  858  alleging insolvency and the date the court entered an order
  859  appointing a receiver.
  860         Section 27. Except as otherwise expressly provided in this
  861  act, this act shall take effect upon becoming a law.