Florida Senate - 2021                             CS for SB 1598
       By the Committee on Banking and Insurance; and Senator Gruters
       597-02952-21                                          20211598c1
    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; revising services a person is
   50         prohibited from performing unless the person meets
   51         specified requirements; authorizing the department to
   52         take administrative actions and impose fines against
   53         persons performing specified activities without
   54         licensure; amending s. 626.916, F.S.; revising
   55         disclosure requirements for certain classes of
   56         insurance before being eligible for export under the
   57         Surplus Lines Law; amending s. 626.9541, F.S.; adding
   58         certain acts or practices to the definition of
   59         sliding; amending s. 626.9741, F.S.; requiring an
   60         insurer to include certain additional information when
   61         providing an applicant or insured with certain credit
   62         report or score information; amending s. 626.9953,
   63         F.S.; correcting a cross-reference; amending ss.
   64         626.9957 and 627.062, F.S.; conforming cross
   65         references; amending s. 627.502, F.S.; prohibiting
   66         life insurers from writing new policies of industrial
   67         life insurance beginning on a certain date; making
   68         technical changes; amending s. 627.70131, F.S.;
   69         providing that a communication made to or by an
   70         insurer’s representative, rather than to or by an
   71         insurer’s agent, constitutes communication to or by
   72         the insurer; revising the timeframe for insurers to
   73         begin certain investigations; requiring an insurer
   74         assigned licensed adjuster to provide the policyholder
   75         with certain information in certain investigations;
   76         requiring insurers to maintain certain records and
   77         provide certain lists upon request; requiring insurers
   78         to include specified notices when providing
   79         preliminary or partial damage estimates or claim
   80         payments; providing applicability; conforming
   81         provisions to changes made by the act; creating s.
   82         627.7031, F.S.; prohibiting foreign venue clauses in
   83         property insurance policies; providing applicability;
   84         amending s. 627.7142, F.S.; revising information
   85         contained in the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights;
   86         conforming provisions to changes made by the act;
   87         amending s. 631.57, F.S.; deleting a deductible on the
   88         obligation of the Florida Insurance Guaranty
   89         Association, Incorporated, as to certain covered
   90         claims; amending s. 631.904, F.S.; revising the
   91         definition of the term “covered claim”; deleting a
   92         requirement that a policy be in force on the date of
   93         the final order of liquidation; providing effective
   94         dates.
   96  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   98         Section 1. Paragraph (b) of subsection (9) of section
   99  501.0051, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  100         501.0051 Protected consumer report security freeze.—
  101         (9)
  102         (b) A consumer reporting agency may not charge a fee to a
  103  reasonable fee, not to exceed $10, if the representative fails
  104  to retain the original unique personal identifier provided by
  105  the consumer reporting agency and the agency must reissue the
  106  unique personal identifier or to provide a new unique personal
  107  identifier to the consumer representative.
  108         Section 2. Paragraph (b) of subsection (10) of section
  109  624.307, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  110         624.307 General powers; duties.—
  111         (10)
  112         (b) Any person licensed or issued a certificate of
  113  authority by the department or the office shall respond, in
  114  writing, to the division within 20 days after receipt of a
  115  written request for documents and information from the division
  116  concerning a consumer complaint. The response must address the
  117  issues and allegations raised in the complaint and include any
  118  requested documents concerning the consumer complaint not
  119  subject to attorney-client or work-product privilege. The
  120  division may impose an administrative penalty for failure to
  121  comply with this paragraph of up to $2,500 per violation upon
  122  any entity licensed by the department or the office and $250 for
  123  the first violation, $500 for the second violation, and up to
  124  $1,000 for the third or subsequent violation upon any individual
  125  licensed by the department or the office.
  126         Section 3. Subsection (20) of section 624.501, Florida
  127  Statutes, is amended to read:
  128         624.501 Filing, license, appointment, and miscellaneous
  129  fees.—The department, commission, or office, as appropriate,
  130  shall collect in advance, and persons so served shall pay to it
  131  in advance, fees, licenses, and miscellaneous charges as
  132  follows:
  133         (20) Adjusting firm, original or renewal 3-year
  134  license...................................................$60.00
  135         Section 4. Present subsections (6) through (21) of section
  136  626.015, Florida Statutes, are redesignated as subsections (7)
  137  through (22), respectively, and a new subsection (6) is added to
  138  that section, to read:
  139         626.015 Definitions.—As used in this part:
  140         (6)“Claims adjusting” means directly or indirectly
  141  attempting or undertaking to ascertain and determine the amount
  142  of a claim, loss, or damage payable under an insurance contract
  143  or undertaking to negotiate or effect settlement of a claim,
  144  loss, or damage under an insurance contract, if such action
  145  results in payment to or receipt of money, commission, or any
  146  other thing of value by the party or parties rendering such
  147  service or persons affiliated with such party or parties. Claims
  148  adjusting also includes soliciting claims adjusting services as
  149  described in this chapter or soliciting an insured or
  150  policyholder to file an insurance claim. Claims adjusting does
  151  not include:
  152         (a)Paid services as a spokesperson used as part of a
  153  written or an electronic advertisement;
  154         (b)Paid services as a photographer or videographer used to
  155  capture images of damage;
  156         (c)Paid services to inventory personal property or
  157  business personal property; or
  158         (d)Discussion or explanation of a bid for construction or
  159  repair services with a property owner or the insurer of such
  160  property by a contractor licensed pursuant to part I of chapter
  161  489 or a subcontractor for a licensed contractor.
  162         Section 5. Present subsection (9) of section 626.112,
  163  Florida Statutes, is redesignated as subsection (10) and
  164  amended, a new subsection (9) is added to that section, and
  165  paragraph (d) of subsection (7) of that section is amended, to
  166  read:
  167         626.112 License and appointment required; agents, customer
  168  representatives, adjusters, insurance agencies, service
  169  representatives, managing general agents, insurance adjusting
  170  firms.—
  171         (7)
  172         (d)Effective October 1, 2015, the department must
  173  automatically convert the registration of an approved registered
  174  insurance agency to an insurance agency license.
  175         (9)(a)An individual, firm, partnership, corporation,
  176  association, or other entity may not act in its own name or
  177  under a trade name, directly or indirectly, as an adjusting firm
  178  unless it complies with s. 626.8696 with respect to possessing
  179  an adjusting firm license for each place of business at which it
  180  engages in an activity that may be performed only by a licensed
  181  insurance adjuster. However, an adjusting firm that is owned and
  182  operated by a single licensed adjuster conducting business in
  183  his or her individual name and not employing or otherwise using
  184  the services of or appointing other licensees is exempt from the
  185  adjusting firm licensing requirements of this subsection.
  186         (b)A branch place of business that is established by a
  187  licensed adjusting firm is considered a branch firm and is not
  188  required to be licensed if:
  189         1.It transacts business under the same name and federal
  190  tax identification number as the licensed adjusting firm;
  191         2.It has designated with the department a primary adjuster
  192  operating the location as required by s. 626.8695; and
  193         3.The address and telephone number of the branch location
  194  have been submitted to the department for inclusion in the
  195  licensing record of the licensed adjusting firm within 30 days
  196  after insurance transactions begin at the branch location.
  197         (c)If an adjusting firm is required to be licensed but
  198  fails to apply for licensure in accordance with this section,
  199  the department must impose an administrative penalty of up to
  200  $10,000 on the firm.
  201         (10)(9) Any person who knowingly transacts insurance or
  202  otherwise engages in insurance activities in this state without
  203  a license in violation of this section or who knowingly aids or
  204  abets an unlicensed person in transacting insurance or otherwise
  205  engaging in insurance activities in this state without a license
  206  commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in
  207  s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
  208         Section 6. Subsection (4) is added to section 626.602,
  209  Florida Statutes, to read:
  210         626.602 Insurance agency names; disapproval.—The department
  211  may disapprove the use of any true or fictitious name, other
  212  than the bona fide natural name of an individual, by any
  213  insurance agency on any of the following grounds:
  214         (4)The name contains the word “Medicare” or “Medicaid.” An
  215  insurance agency whose name contains the word “Medicare” or
  216  “Medicaid” but which is licensed as of July 1, 2021, may
  217  continue to use that name until June 30, 2023, provided that the
  218  agency’s license remains valid. If the agency’s license expires
  219  or is suspended or revoked, the agency may not be relicensed
  220  using that name. Licenses for agencies with names containing
  221  either of these words automatically expire on July 1, 2023,
  222  unless these words are removed from the name.
  223         Section 7. Subsections (16) and (17) are added to section
  224  626.621, Florida Statutes, to read:
  225         626.621 Grounds for discretionary refusal, suspension, or
  226  revocation of agent’s, adjuster’s, customer representative’s,
  227  service representative’s, or managing general agent’s license or
  228  appointment.—The department may, in its discretion, deny an
  229  application for, suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew or continue
  230  the license or appointment of any applicant, agent, adjuster,
  231  customer representative, service representative, or managing
  232  general agent, and it may suspend or revoke the eligibility to
  233  hold a license or appointment of any such person, if it finds
  234  that as to the applicant, licensee, or appointee any one or more
  235  of the following applicable grounds exist under circumstances
  236  for which such denial, suspension, revocation, or refusal is not
  237  mandatory under s. 626.611:
  238         (16)Taking an action that allows the personal financial or
  239  medical information of a consumer or customer to be made
  240  available or accessible to the general public, regardless of the
  241  format in which the record is stored.
  242         (17)Initiating in-person or telephone solicitation after 9
  243  p.m. or before 8 a.m. local time of the prospective customer
  244  unless requested by the prospective customer.
  245         Section 8. Section 626.7315, Florida Statutes, is amended
  246  to read:
  247         626.7315 Prohibition against the unlicensed transaction of
  248  general lines insurance.—With respect to any line of authority
  249  as defined in s. 626.015(8) s. 626.015(7), no individual shall,
  250  unless licensed as a general lines agent:
  251         (1) Solicit insurance or procure applications therefor;
  252         (2) In this state, receive or issue a receipt for any money
  253  on account of or for any insurer, or receive or issue a receipt
  254  for money from other persons to be transmitted to any insurer
  255  for a policy, contract, or certificate of insurance or any
  256  renewal thereof, even though the policy, certificate, or
  257  contract is not signed by him or her as agent or representative
  258  of the insurer, except as provided in s. 626.0428(1);
  259         (3) Directly or indirectly represent himself or herself to
  260  be an agent of any insurer or as an agent, to collect or forward
  261  any insurance premium, or to solicit, negotiate, effect,
  262  procure, receive, deliver, or forward, directly or indirectly,
  263  any insurance contract or renewal thereof or any endorsement
  264  relating to an insurance contract, or attempt to effect the
  265  same, of property or insurable business activities or interests,
  266  located in this state;
  267         (4) In this state, engage or hold himself or herself out as
  268  engaging in the business of analyzing or abstracting insurance
  269  policies or of counseling or advising or giving opinions, other
  270  than as a licensed attorney at law, relative to insurance or
  271  insurance contracts, for fee, commission, or other compensation,
  272  other than as a salaried bona fide full-time employee so
  273  counseling and advising his or her employer relative to the
  274  insurance interests of the employer and of the subsidiaries or
  275  business affiliates of the employer;
  276         (5) In any way, directly or indirectly, make or cause to be
  277  made, or attempt to make or cause to be made, any contract of
  278  insurance for or on account of any insurer;
  279         (6) Solicit, negotiate, or in any way, directly or
  280  indirectly, effect insurance contracts, if a member of a
  281  partnership or association, or a stockholder, officer, or agent
  282  of a corporation which holds an agency appointment from any
  283  insurer; or
  284         (7) Receive or transmit applications for suretyship, or
  285  receive for delivery bonds founded on applications forwarded
  286  from this state, or otherwise procure suretyship to be effected
  287  by a surety insurer upon the bonds of persons in this state or
  288  upon bonds given to persons in this state.
  289         Section 9. Section 626.782, Florida Statutes, is amended to
  290  read:
  291         626.782 “Industrial class insurer” defined.—An “industrial
  292  class insurer” is an insurer collecting premiums on policies of
  293  writing industrial life insurance, as defined in s. 627.502,
  294  written before July 1, 2021, and as to such insurance, operates
  295  under a system of collecting a debit by its agent.
  296         Section 10. Section 626.783, Florida Statutes, is amended
  297  to read:
  298         626.783 “Ordinary-combination class insurer” defined.—An
  299  “ordinary-combination class insurer” is an insurer writing both
  300  ordinary class insurance and collecting premiums on existing
  301  industrial life class insurance as defined by s. 627.502.
  302         Section 11. Subsection (2) of section 626.7845, Florida
  303  Statutes, is amended to read:
  304         626.7845 Prohibition against unlicensed transaction of life
  305  insurance.—
  306         (2) Except as provided in s. 626.112(6), with respect to
  307  any line of authority specified in s. 626.015(13) s.
  308  626.015(12), an individual may not, unless licensed as a life
  309  agent:
  310         (a) Solicit insurance or annuities or procure applications;
  311         (b) In this state, engage or hold himself or herself out as
  312  engaging in the business of analyzing or abstracting insurance
  313  policies or of counseling or advising or giving opinions to
  314  persons relative to insurance or insurance contracts, unless the
  315  individual is:
  316         1. A consulting actuary advising insurers;
  317         2. An employee of a labor union, association, employer, or
  318  other business entity, or the subsidiaries and affiliates of
  319  each, who counsels and advises such entity or entities relative
  320  to their interests and those of their members or employees under
  321  insurance benefit plans; or
  322         3. A trustee advising a settlor, a beneficiary, or a person
  323  regarding his or her interests in a trust, relative to insurance
  324  benefit plans; or
  325         (c) In this state, from this state, or with a resident of
  326  this state, offer or attempt to negotiate on behalf of another
  327  person a viatical settlement contract as defined in s. 626.9911.
  328         Section 12. Section 626.796, Florida Statutes, is repealed.
  329         Section 13. Section 626.8305, Florida Statutes, is amended
  330  to read:
  331         626.8305 Prohibition against the unlicensed transaction of
  332  health insurance.—Except as provided in s. 626.112(6), with
  333  respect to any line of authority specified in s. 626.015(9) s.
  334  626.015(8), an individual may not, unless licensed as a health
  335  agent:
  336         (1) Solicit insurance or procure applications; or
  337         (2) In this state, engage or hold himself or herself out as
  338  engaging in the business of analyzing or abstracting insurance
  339  policies or of counseling or advising or giving opinions to
  340  persons relative to insurance contracts, unless the individual
  341  is:
  342         (a) A consulting actuary advising insurers;
  343         (b) An employee of a labor union, association, employer, or
  344  other business entity, or the subsidiaries and affiliates of
  345  each, who counsels and advises such entity or entities relative
  346  to their interests and those of their members or employees under
  347  insurance benefit plans; or
  348         (c) A trustee advising a settlor, a beneficiary, or a
  349  person regarding his or her interests in a trust, relative to
  350  insurance benefit plans.
  351         Section 14. Subsections (6), (11), (15), and (19) of
  352  section 626.854, Florida Statutes, are amended, and subsection
  353  (20) is added to that section, to read:
  354         626.854 “Public adjuster” defined; prohibitions.—The
  355  Legislature finds that it is necessary for the protection of the
  356  public to regulate public insurance adjusters and to prevent the
  357  unauthorized practice of law.
  358         (6) An insured or claimant may cancel a public adjuster’s
  359  contract to adjust a claim without penalty or obligation within
  360  10 calendar 3 business days after the date on which the contract
  361  is executed or within 3 business days after the date on which
  362  the insured or claimant has notified the insurer of the claim,
  363  whichever is later. The public adjuster’s contract must contain
  364  the following language in minimum 18-point bold type: “You, the
  365  insured, may cancel this contract for any reason without penalty
  366  or obligation to you within 10 days after the date of this
  367  contract by providing notice to ...(name of public adjuster)...,
  368  submitted in writing and sent by certified mail, return receipt
  369  requested, or other form of mailing that provides proof thereof,
  370  at the address specified in the contract disclose to the insured
  371  or claimant his or her right to cancel the contract and advise
  372  the insured or claimant that notice of cancellation must be
  373  submitted in writing and sent by certified mail, return receipt
  374  requested, or other form of mailing that provides proof thereof,
  375  to the public adjuster at the address specified in the contract;
  376  provided, during any state of emergency as declared by the
  377  Governor and for 1 year after the date of loss, the insured or
  378  claimant has 5 business days after the date on which the
  379  contract is executed to cancel a public adjuster’s contract.
  380         (11) Each public adjuster must provide to the claimant or
  381  insured a written estimate of the loss to assist in the
  382  submission of a proof of loss or any other claim for payment of
  383  insurance proceeds within 60 days after the date of the
  384  contract. The written estimate must include an itemized, per
  385  unit estimate of the repairs, including itemized information on
  386  equipment, materials, labor, and supplies, in accordance with
  387  accepted industry standards. The public adjuster shall retain
  388  such written estimate for at least 5 years and shall make the
  389  estimate available to the claimant or insured, the insurer, and
  390  the department upon request.
  391         (15) A licensed contractor under part I of chapter 489, or
  392  a subcontractor, may not adjust a claim on behalf of an insured,
  393  or solicit an insured to file a claim, unless licensed and
  394  compliant as a public adjuster under this chapter. However, the
  395  contractor may discuss or explain a bid for construction or
  396  repair of covered property with the residential property owner
  397  who has suffered loss or damage covered by a property insurance
  398  policy, or the insurer of such property, if the contractor is
  399  doing so for the usual and customary fees applicable to the work
  400  to be performed as stated in the contract between the contractor
  401  and the insured.
  402         (19) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, no
  403  person, except an attorney at law or a public adjuster, may for
  404  money, commission, or any other thing of value, directly or
  405  indirectly:
  406         (a) Prepare, complete, or file an insurance claim for an
  407  insured or a third-party claimant;
  408         (b) Act on behalf of or aid an insured or a third-party
  409  claimant in negotiating for or effecting the settlement of a
  410  claim for loss or damage covered by an insurance contract;
  411         (c) Advertise for employment as a public adjuster; or
  412         (d) Solicit, advertise, advise, assist, investigate, or
  413  adjust a claim on behalf of a public adjuster, an insured, or a
  414  third-party claimant.
  415         (20)The department may take administrative actions and
  416  impose fines against any persons performing claims adjusting as
  417  defined in s. 626.015(6) or any other services as described in
  418  this section without the licensure required under this section
  419  and s. 626.112.
  420         Section 15. Effective January 1, 2022, subsection (3) of
  421  section 626.916, Florida Statutes, is amended, and paragraph (f)
  422  is added to subsection (1) of that section, to read:
  423         626.916 Eligibility for export.—
  424         (1) No insurance coverage shall be eligible for export
  425  unless it meets all of the following conditions:
  426         (f)The insured has signed or otherwise provided documented
  427  acknowledgment of a disclosure in substantially the following
  428  form: “You are agreeing to place coverage in the surplus lines
  429  market. Coverage may be available in the admitted market.
  430  Persons insured by surplus lines carriers are not protected
  431  under the Florida Insurance Guaranty Act with respect to any
  432  right of recovery for the obligation of an insolvent unlicensed
  433  insurer.”
  434         (3)(a) Subsection (1) does not apply to wet marine and
  435  transportation or aviation risks that which are subject to s.
  436  626.917.
  437         (b) Paragraphs (1)(a)-(d) do not apply to classes of
  438  insurance which are subject to s. 627.062(3)(d)1. These classes
  439  may be exportable under the following conditions:
  440         1. The insurance must be placed only by or through a
  441  surplus lines agent licensed in this state;
  442         2. The insurer must be made eligible under s. 626.918; and
  443         3. The insured has complied with paragraph (1)(f) must sign
  444  a disclosure that substantially provides the following: “You are
  445  agreeing to place coverage in the surplus lines market. Superior
  446  coverage may be available in the admitted market and at a lesser
  447  cost. Persons insured by surplus lines carriers are not
  448  protected under the Florida Insurance Guaranty Act with respect
  449  to any right of recovery for the obligation of an insolvent
  450  unlicensed insurer.” If the disclosure notice is signed by the
  451  insured, the insured is presumed to have been informed and to
  452  know that other coverage may be available, and, with respect to
  453  the diligent-effort requirement under subsection (1), there is
  454  no liability on the part of, and no cause of action arises
  455  against, the retail agent presenting the form.
  456         Section 16. Paragraph (z) of subsection (1) of section
  457  626.9541, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  458         626.9541 Unfair methods of competition and unfair or
  459  deceptive acts or practices defined.—
  461  ACTS.—The following are defined as unfair methods of competition
  462  and unfair or deceptive acts or practices:
  463         (z) Sliding.—Sliding is the act or practice of any of the
  464  following:
  465         1. Representing to the applicant that a specific ancillary
  466  coverage or product is required by law in conjunction with the
  467  purchase of insurance when such coverage or product is not
  468  required.;
  469         2. Representing to the applicant that a specific ancillary
  470  coverage or product is included in the policy applied for
  471  without an additional charge when such charge is required.; or
  472         3. Charging an applicant for a specific ancillary coverage
  473  or product, in addition to the cost of the insurance coverage
  474  applied for, without the informed consent of the applicant.
  475         4.Initiating, effectuating, binding, or otherwise issuing
  476  a policy of insurance without the prior informed consent of the
  477  owner of the property to be insured.
  478         5.Mailing, transmitting, or otherwise submitting by any
  479  means an invoice for premium payment to a mortgagee or escrow
  480  agent, for the purpose of effectuating an insurance policy,
  481  without the prior informed consent of the owner of the property
  482  to be insured. However, this subparagraph does not apply in
  483  cases in which the mortgagee or escrow agent is renewing
  484  insurance or issuing collateral protection insurance, as defined
  485  in s. 624.6085, pursuant to the mortgage or other pertinent loan
  486  documents or communications regarding the property.
  487         Section 17. Effective January 1, 2022, subsection (3) of
  488  section 626.9741, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  489         626.9741 Use of credit reports and credit scores by
  490  insurers.—
  491         (3) An insurer must inform an applicant or insured, in the
  492  same medium as the application is taken, that a credit report or
  493  score is being requested for underwriting or rating purposes.
  494  The notification to the consumer must include the following
  495  language: “The Department of Financial Services offers free
  496  financial literacy programs to assist you with insurance-related
  497  questions, including how credit works and how credit scores are
  498  calculated. To learn more, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com.” An
  499  insurer that makes an adverse decision based, in whole or in
  500  part, upon a credit report must provide at no charge, a copy of
  501  the credit report to the applicant or insured or provide the
  502  applicant or insured with the name, address, and telephone
  503  number of the consumer reporting agency from which the insured
  504  or applicant may obtain the credit report. The insurer must
  505  provide notification to the consumer explaining the reasons for
  506  the adverse decision. The reasons must be provided in
  507  sufficiently clear and specific language so that a person can
  508  identify the basis for the insurer’s adverse decision. Such
  509  notification shall include a description of the four primary
  510  reasons, or such fewer number as existed, which were the primary
  511  influences of the adverse decision. The use of generalized terms
  512  such as “poor credit history,” “poor credit rating,” or “poor
  513  insurance score” does not meet the explanation requirements of
  514  this subsection. A credit score may not be used in underwriting
  515  or rating insurance unless the scoring process produces
  516  information in sufficient detail to permit compliance with the
  517  requirements of this subsection. It shall not be deemed an
  518  adverse decision if, due to the insured’s credit report or
  519  credit score, the insured continues to receive a less favorable
  520  rate or placement in a less favorable tier or company at the
  521  time of renewal except for renewals or reunderwriting required
  522  by this section.
  523         Section 18. Subsection (5) of section 626.9953, Florida
  524  Statutes, is amended to read:
  525         626.9953 Qualifications for registration; application
  526  required.—
  527         (5) An applicant must submit a set of his or her
  528  fingerprints to the department and pay the processing fee
  529  established under s. 624.501(23) s. 624.501(24). The department
  530  shall submit the applicant’s fingerprints to the Department of
  531  Law Enforcement for processing state criminal history records
  532  checks and local criminal records checks through local law
  533  enforcement agencies and for forwarding to the Federal Bureau of
  534  Investigation for national criminal history records checks. The
  535  fingerprints shall be taken by a law enforcement agency, a
  536  designated examination center, or another department-approved
  537  entity. The department may not approve an application for
  538  registration as a navigator if fingerprints have not been
  539  submitted.
  540         Section 19. Subsection (1) of section 626.9957, Florida
  541  Statutes, is amended to read:
  542         626.9957 Conduct prohibited; denial, revocation, or
  543  suspension of registration.—
  544         (1) As provided in s. 626.112, only a person licensed as an
  545  insurance agent or customer representative may engage in the
  546  solicitation of insurance. A person who engages in the
  547  solicitation of insurance as described in s. 626.112(1) without
  548  such license is subject to the penalties provided under s.
  549  626.112(10) s. 626.112(9).
  550         Section 20. Subsection (10) of section 627.062, Florida
  551  Statutes, is amended to read:
  552         627.062 Rate standards.—
  553         (10) Any interest paid pursuant to s. 627.70131(7) s.
  554  627.70131(5) may not be included in the insurer’s rate base and
  555  may not be used to justify a rate or rate change.
  556         Section 21. Section 627.502, Florida Statutes, is amended
  557  to read:
  558         627.502 “Industrial life insurance” defined; reporting;
  559  prohibition on new policies after a certain date.—
  560         (1) For the purposes of this code, “industrial life
  561  insurance” is that form of life insurance written under policies
  562  under which premiums are payable monthly or more often, bearing
  563  the words “industrial policy” or “weekly premium policy” or
  564  words of similar import imprinted upon the policies as part of
  565  the descriptive matter, and issued by an insurer that which, as
  566  to such industrial life insurance, is operating under a system
  567  of collecting a debit by its agent.
  568         (2) Every life insurer servicing existing transacting
  569  industrial life insurance shall report to the office all annual
  570  statement data regarding the exhibit of life insurance,
  571  including relevant information for industrial life insurance.
  572         (3)Beginning July 1, 2021, a life insurer may not write a
  573  new policy of industrial life insurance.
  574         Section 22. Effective January 1, 2022, section 627.70131,
  575  Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  576         627.70131 Insurer’s duty to acknowledge communications
  577  regarding claims; investigation.—
  578         (1)(a) Upon an insurer’s receiving a communication with
  579  respect to a claim, the insurer shall, within 14 calendar days,
  580  review and acknowledge receipt of such communication unless
  581  payment is made within that period of time or unless the failure
  582  to acknowledge is caused by factors beyond the control of the
  583  insurer which reasonably prevent such acknowledgment. If the
  584  acknowledgment is not in writing, a notification indicating
  585  acknowledgment shall be made in the insurer’s claim file and
  586  dated. A communication made to or by a representative an agent
  587  of an insurer with respect to a claim shall constitute
  588  communication to or by the insurer.
  589         (b) As used in this subsection, the term “representative”
  590  “agent” means any person to whom an insurer has granted
  591  authority or responsibility to receive or make such
  592  communications with respect to claims on behalf of the insurer.
  593         (c) This subsection does shall not apply to claimants
  594  represented by counsel beyond those communications necessary to
  595  provide forms and instructions.
  596         (2) Such acknowledgment must shall be responsive to the
  597  communication. If the communication constitutes a notification
  598  of a claim, unless the acknowledgment reasonably advises the
  599  claimant that the claim appears not to be covered by the
  600  insurer, the acknowledgment must shall provide necessary claim
  601  forms, and instructions, including an appropriate telephone
  602  number.
  603         (3)(a) Unless otherwise provided by the policy of insurance
  604  or by law, within 14 10 working days after an insurer receives
  605  proof of loss statements, the insurer shall begin such
  606  investigation as is reasonably necessary unless the failure to
  607  begin such investigation is caused by factors beyond the control
  608  of the insurer which reasonably prevent the commencement of such
  609  investigation.
  610         (b)If such investigation involves a physical inspection of
  611  the property, the licensed adjuster assigned by the insurer must
  612  provide the policyholder with a printed or electronic document
  613  containing his or her name and state adjuster license number.
  614         (c)Any subsequent communication with the policyholder
  615  regarding the claim must also include the name and license
  616  number of the adjuster communicating about the claim.
  617  Communication of the adjuster’s name and license number may be
  618  included with other information provided to the policyholder.
  619         (4) An insurer shall maintain a record or log of each
  620  adjuster who communicates with the policyholder as provided in
  621  paragraphs (3)(b) and (c) and provide a list of such adjusters
  622  to the insured, office, or department upon request.
  623         (5) For purposes of this section, the term “insurer” means
  624  any residential property insurer.
  625         (6)(a)When providing a preliminary or partial estimate of
  626  damage regarding a claim, an insurer shall include with the
  627  estimate the following statement printed in at least 12-point
  628  bold, uppercase type: THIS ESTIMATE REPRESENTS OUR CURRENT
  633         (b)When providing a payment on a claim which is not the
  634  full and final payment for the claim, an insurer shall include
  635  with the payment the following statement printed in at least 12
  636  point bold, uppercase type: WE ARE CONTINUING TO EVALUATE YOUR
  640  US.
  641         (7)(a)(5)(a) Within 90 days after an insurer receives
  642  notice of an initial, reopened, or supplemental property
  643  insurance claim from a policyholder, the insurer shall pay or
  644  deny such claim or a portion of the claim unless the failure to
  645  pay is caused by factors beyond the control of the insurer which
  646  reasonably prevent such payment. Any payment of an initial or
  647  supplemental claim or portion of such claim made 90 days after
  648  the insurer receives notice of the claim, or made more than 15
  649  days after there are no longer factors beyond the control of the
  650  insurer which reasonably prevented such payment, whichever is
  651  later, bears interest at the rate set forth in s. 55.03.
  652  Interest begins to accrue from the date the insurer receives
  653  notice of the claim. The provisions of this subsection may not
  654  be waived, voided, or nullified by the terms of the insurance
  655  policy. If there is a right to prejudgment interest, the insured
  656  shall select whether to receive prejudgment interest or interest
  657  under this subsection. Interest is payable when the claim or
  658  portion of the claim is paid. Failure to comply with this
  659  subsection constitutes a violation of this code. However,
  660  failure to comply with this subsection does not form the sole
  661  basis for a private cause of action.
  662         (b) Notwithstanding subsection (5) (4), for purposes of
  663  this subsection, the term “claim” means any of the following:
  664         1. A claim under an insurance policy providing residential
  665  coverage as defined in s. 627.4025(1);
  666         2. A claim for structural or contents coverage under a
  667  commercial property insurance policy if the insured structure is
  668  10,000 square feet or less; or
  669         3. A claim for contents coverage under a commercial tenant
  670  policy if the insured premises is 10,000 square feet or less.
  671         (c) This subsection does shall not apply to claims under an
  672  insurance policy covering nonresidential commercial structures
  673  or contents in more than one state.
  674         (8)This section also applies to surplus lines insurers and
  675  surplus lines insurance authorized under ss. 626.913-626.937
  676  providing residential coverage.
  677         Section 23. Section 627.7031, Florida Statutes, is created
  678  to read:
  679         627.7031Foreign venue clauses prohibited.—After July 1,
  680  2021, a personal residential property insurance policy sold in
  681  this state, insuring only real property located in this state,
  682  may not require an insured to pursue dispute resolution through
  683  litigation, arbitration, or mediation outside this state. This
  684  section also applies to surplus lines insurers and surplus lines
  685  insurance authorized under ss. 626.913-626.937.
  686         Section 24. Effective January 1, 2022, section 627.7142,
  687  Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  688         627.7142 Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights.—An insurer
  689  issuing a personal lines residential property insurance policy
  690  in this state must provide a Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights to
  691  a policyholder within 14 days after receiving an initial
  692  communication with respect to a claim, unless the claim follows
  693  an event that is the subject of a declaration of a state of
  694  emergency by the Governor. The purpose of the bill of rights is
  695  to summarize, in simple, nontechnical terms, existing Florida
  696  law regarding the rights of a personal lines residential
  697  property insurance policyholder who files a claim of loss. The
  698  Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights is specific to the claims
  699  process and does not represent all of a policyholder’s rights
  700  under Florida law regarding the insurance policy. The Homeowner
  701  Claims Bill of Rights does not create a civil cause of action by
  702  any individual policyholder or class of policyholders against an
  703  insurer or insurers. The failure of an insurer to properly
  704  deliver the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights is subject to
  705  administrative enforcement by the office but is not admissible
  706  as evidence in a civil action against an insurer. The Homeowner
  707  Claims Bill of Rights does not enlarge, modify, or contravene
  708  statutory requirements, including, but not limited to, ss.
  709  626.854, 626.9541, 627.70131, 627.7015, and 627.7074, and does
  710  not prohibit an insurer from exercising its right to repair
  711  damaged property in compliance with the terms of an applicable
  712  policy or ss. 627.7011(5)(e) and 627.702(7). The Homeowner
  713  Claims Bill of Rights must state:
  715                          HOMEOWNER CLAIMS                         
  716                           BILL OF RIGHTS                          
  717         This Bill of Rights is specific to the claims process
  718         and does not represent all of your rights under
  719         Florida law regarding your policy. There are also
  720         exceptions to the stated timelines when conditions are
  721         beyond your insurance company’s control. This document
  722         does not create a civil cause of action by an
  723         individual policyholder, or a class of policyholders,
  724         against an insurer or insurers and does not prohibit
  725         an insurer from exercising its right to repair damaged
  726         property in compliance with the terms of an applicable
  727         policy.
  729         YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO:
  730         1. Receive from your insurance company an
  731         acknowledgment of your reported claim within 14 days
  732         after the time you communicated the claim.
  733         2. Upon written request, receive from your
  734         insurance company within 30 days after you have
  735         submitted a complete proof-of-loss statement to your
  736         insurance company, confirmation that your claim is
  737         covered in full, partially covered, or denied, or
  738         receive a written statement that your claim is being
  739         investigated.
  740         3. Within 90 days, subject to any dual interest
  741         noted in the policy, receive full settlement payment
  742         for your claim or payment of the undisputed portion of
  743         your claim, or your insurance company’s denial of your
  744         claim.
  745         4.Receive payment of interest, as provided in s.
  746         627.70131, Florida Statutes, from your insurance
  747         company, which begins accruing from the date your
  748         claim is filed if your insurance company does not pay
  749         full settlement of your initial, reopened, or
  750         supplemental claim or the undisputed portion of your
  751         claim or does not deny your claim within 90 days after
  752         your claim is filed. The interest, if applicable, must
  753         be paid when your claim or undisputed portion of your
  754         claim is paid.
  755         5. Free mediation of your disputed claim by the
  756         Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of
  757         Consumer Services, under most circumstances and
  758         subject to certain restrictions.
  759         6.5. Neutral evaluation of your disputed claim,
  760         if your claim is for damage caused by a sinkhole and
  761         is covered by your policy.
  762         7.6. Contact the Florida Department of Financial
  763         Services, Division of Consumer Services’ toll-free
  764         helpline for assistance with any insurance claim or
  765         questions pertaining to the handling of your claim.
  766         You can reach the Helpline by phone at...(toll-free
  767         phone number)..., or you can seek assistance online at
  768         the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division
  769         of Consumer Services’ website at...(website
  770         address)....
  772         YOU ARE ADVISED TO:
  773         1. Contact your insurance company before entering
  774         into any contract for repairs to confirm any managed
  775         repair policy provisions or optional preferred
  776         vendors.
  777         2. Make and document emergency repairs that are
  778         necessary to prevent further damage. Keep the damaged
  779         property, if feasible, keep all receipts, and take
  780         photographs or video of damage before and after any
  781         repairs to provide to your insurer.
  782         3. Carefully read any contract that requires you
  783         to pay out-of-pocket expenses or a fee that is based
  784         on a percentage of the insurance proceeds that you
  785         will receive for repairing or replacing your property.
  786         4. Confirm that the contractor you choose is
  787         licensed to do business in Florida. You can verify a
  788         contractor’s license and check to see if there are any
  789         complaints against him or her by calling the Florida
  790         Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
  791         You should also ask the contractor for references from
  792         previous work.
  793         5. Require all contractors to provide proof of
  794         insurance before beginning repairs.
  795         6. Take precautions if the damage requires you to
  796         leave your home, including securing your property and
  797         turning off your gas, water, and electricity, and
  798         contacting your insurance company and provide a phone
  799         number where you can be reached.
  800         Section 25. Paragraph (a) of subsection (1) and subsection
  801  (6) of section 631.57, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  802         631.57 Powers and duties of the association.—
  803         (1) The association shall:
  804         (a)1. Be obligated to the extent of the covered claims
  805  existing:
  806         a. Prior to adjudication of insolvency and arising within
  807  30 days after the determination of insolvency;
  808         b. Before the policy expiration date if less than 30 days
  809  after the determination; or
  810         c. Before the insured replaces the policy or causes its
  811  cancellation, if she or he does so within 30 days of the
  812  determination.
  813         2. The obligation under subparagraph 1. includes only the
  814  amount of each covered claim which is in excess of $100 and is
  815  less than $300,000, except that policies providing coverage for
  816  homeowner’s insurance must shall provide for an additional
  817  $200,000 for the portion of a covered claim which relates only
  818  to the damage to the structure and contents.
  819         3.a. Notwithstanding subparagraph 2., the obligation under
  820  subparagraph 1. for policies covering condominium associations
  821  or homeowners’ associations, which associations have a
  822  responsibility to provide insurance coverage on residential
  823  units within the association, includes shall include that amount
  824  of each covered property insurance claim which is less than
  825  $200,000 multiplied by the number of condominium units or other
  826  residential units; however, as to homeowners’ associations, this
  827  sub-subparagraph applies only to claims for damage or loss to
  828  residential units and structures attached to residential units.
  829         b. Notwithstanding sub-subparagraph a., the association has
  830  no obligation to pay covered claims that are to be paid from the
  831  proceeds of bonds issued under s. 631.695. However, the
  832  association shall assign and pledge the first available moneys
  833  from all or part of the assessments to be made under paragraph
  834  (3)(a) to or on behalf of the issuer of such bonds for the
  835  benefit of the holders of such bonds. The association shall
  836  administer any such covered claims and present valid covered
  837  claims for payment in accordance with the provisions of the
  838  assistance program in connection with which such bonds have been
  839  issued.
  840         4. In no event shall The association may not be obligated
  841  to a policyholder or claimant in an amount in excess of the
  842  obligation of the insolvent insurer under the policy from which
  843  the claim arises.
  844         (6) The association may extend the time limits specified in
  845  paragraph (1)(a) by up to an additional 60 days or waive the
  846  applicability of the $100 deductible specified in paragraph
  847  (1)(a) if the board determines it is that either or both such
  848  actions are necessary to facilitate the bulk assumption of
  849  obligations.
  850         Section 26. Subsection (2) of section 631.904, Florida
  851  Statutes, is amended to read:
  852         631.904 Definitions.—As used in this part, the term:
  853         (2) “Covered claim” means an unpaid claim, including a
  854  claim for return of unearned premiums, which arises out of, is
  855  within the coverage of, and is not in excess of the applicable
  856  limits of, an insurance policy to which this part applies, which
  857  policy was issued by an insurer and which claim is made on
  858  behalf of a claimant or insured who was a resident of this state
  859  at the time of the injury. The term “covered claim” includes
  860  unpaid claims under any employer liability coverage of a
  861  workers’ compensation policy limited to the lesser of $300,000
  862  or the limits of the policy. The term “covered claim” does not
  863  include any amount sought as a return of premium under any
  864  retrospective rating plan; any amount due any reinsurer,
  865  insurer, insurance pool, or underwriting association, as
  866  subrogation recoveries or otherwise; or any claim that would
  867  otherwise be a covered claim that has been rejected or denied by
  868  any other state guaranty fund based upon that state’s statutory
  869  exclusions, including, but not limited to, those based on
  870  coverage, policy type, or an insured’s net worth, except this
  871  exclusion from the definition of covered claim does not apply to
  872  employers who, prior to April 30, 2004, entered into an
  873  agreement with the corporation preserving the employer’s right
  874  to seek coverage of claims rejected by another state’s guaranty
  875  fund; or any return of premium resulting from a policy that was
  876  not in force on the date of the final order of liquidation.
  877  Member insurers have no right of subrogation against the insured
  878  of any insolvent insurer. This provision applies retroactively
  879  to cover claims of an insolvent self-insurance fund resulting
  880  from accidents or losses incurred prior to January 1, 1994,
  881  regardless of the date the petition in circuit court was filed
  882  alleging insolvency and the date the court entered an order
  883  appointing a receiver.
  884         Section 27. Except as otherwise expressly provided in this
  885  act, this act shall take effect upon becoming a law.