2021 Legislature                           CS for CS for SB 1598
    2         An act relating to consumer protection; amending
    3         501.0051, F.S.; deleting authorization for consumer
    4         reporting agencies to charge a fee for reissuing or
    5         providing a new unique personal identifier to a
    6         consumer; amending s. 624.307, F.S.; revising a
    7         requirement for persons licensed or authorized by the
    8         Department of Financial Services or the Office of
    9         Insurance Regulation to respond to the department’s
   10         Division of Consumer Services regarding consumer
   11         complaints; amending s. 624.501, F.S.; deleting a fee
   12         for adjusting firm licenses; amending s. 626.112,
   13         F.S.; deleting an obsolete provision; prohibiting
   14         unlicensed activity by an adjusting firm; providing an
   15         exemption; providing an exemption from licensure for
   16         branch firms that meet certain criteria; providing an
   17         administrative penalty for failing to apply for
   18         certain licensure; providing a criminal penalty for
   19         aiding or abetting unlicensed activity; amending s.
   20         626.602, F.S.; authorizing the department to
   21         disapprove the use of insurance agency names
   22         containing the word “Medicare” or “Medicaid”;
   23         providing an exception for certain insurance agencies
   24         for a certain period; providing for expiration of
   25         certain licenses on a certain date; amending s.
   26         626.621, F.S.; adding grounds on which the department
   27         may take certain actions against a license,
   28         appointment, or application of certain insurance
   29         representatives; amending ss. 626.782 and 626.783,
   30         F.S.; revising the definitions of the terms
   31         “industrial class insurer” and “ordinary-combination
   32         class insurer,” respectively, to conform to changes
   33         made by the act; repealing s. 626.796, F.S., relating
   34         to the representation of multiple insurers in the same
   35         industrial debit territory; amending s. 626.854, F.S.;
   36         revising the timeframes in which an insured or a
   37         claimant may cancel a public adjuster’s contract to
   38         adjust a claim without penalty or obligation;
   39         requiring that a public adjuster’s contract include a
   40         specified disclosure; specifying requirements for
   41         written estimates of loss provided by public adjusters
   42         to claimants or insureds; revising a prohibition
   43         against certain contractors or subcontractors
   44         providing insureds with specified services; providing
   45         an exception; revising services a person is prohibited
   46         from performing unless the person meets specified
   47         requirements; authorizing the department to take
   48         administrative actions and impose fines against
   49         persons performing specified activities without
   50         licensure; prohibiting specified persons from charging
   51         insureds or third-party claimants or receiving
   52         payments under certain circumstances; amending s.
   53         626.916, F.S.; revising disclosure requirements for
   54         certain classes of insurance before being eligible for
   55         export under the Surplus Lines Law; amending s.
   56         626.9541, F.S.; adding certain acts or practices to
   57         the definition of sliding; amending s. 626.9741, F.S.;
   58         requiring an insurer to include certain additional
   59         information when providing an applicant or insured
   60         with certain credit report or score information;
   61         amending ss. 626.9953, 626.9957, and 627.062, F.S.;
   62         conforming cross-references; amending s. 627.502,
   63         F.S.; prohibiting life insurers from writing new
   64         policies of industrial life insurance beginning on a
   65         certain date; making technical changes; amending s.
   66         627.70131, F.S.; providing that a communication made
   67         to or by an insurer’s representative, rather than to
   68         or by an insurer’s agent, constitutes communication to
   69         or by the insurer; defining the term “representative”,
   70         rather than “agent”; revising the timeframe for
   71         insurers to begin certain investigations; requiring an
   72         insurer-assigned licensed adjuster to provide the
   73         policyholder with certain information in certain
   74         investigations; requiring insurers to maintain certain
   75         records and provide certain lists upon request;
   76         requiring insurers to include specified notices when
   77         providing preliminary or partial damage estimates or
   78         claim payments; providing applicability; conforming
   79         provisions to changes made by the act; amending s.
   80         627.7142, F.S.; revising information contained in the
   81         Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights; conforming provisions
   82         to changes made by the act; amending s. 631.57, F.S.;
   83         deleting a deductible on the obligation of the Florida
   84         Insurance Guaranty Association, Incorporated, as to
   85         certain covered claims; amending s. 631.904, F.S.;
   86         revising the definition of the term “covered claim”;
   87         deleting a requirement that a policy be in force on
   88         the date of the final order of liquidation; providing
   89         effective dates.
   91  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   93         Section 1. Subsection (9) of section 501.0051, Florida
   94  Statutes, is amended to read:
   95         501.0051 Protected consumer report security freeze.—
   96         (9)(a) A consumer reporting agency may not charge any fee
   97  to place or remove a security freeze.
   98         (b)A consumer reporting agency may charge a reasonable
   99  fee, not to exceed $10, if the representative fails to retain
  100  the original unique personal identifier provided by the consumer
  101  reporting agency and the agency must reissue the unique personal
  102  identifier or provide a new unique personal identifier to the
  103  representative.
  104         Section 2. Paragraph (b) of subsection (10) of section
  105  624.307, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  106         624.307 General powers; duties.—
  107         (10)
  108         (b) Any person licensed or issued a certificate of
  109  authority by the department or the office shall respond, in
  110  writing, to the division within 20 days after receipt of a
  111  written request for documents and information from the division
  112  concerning a consumer complaint. The response must address the
  113  issues and allegations raised in the complaint and include any
  114  requested documents concerning the consumer complaint not
  115  subject to attorney-client or work-product privilege. The
  116  division may impose an administrative penalty for failure to
  117  comply with this paragraph of up to $2,500 per violation upon
  118  any entity licensed by the department or the office and $250 for
  119  the first violation, $500 for the second violation, and up to
  120  $1,000 for the third or subsequent violation upon any individual
  121  licensed by the department or the office.
  122         Section 3. Subsection (20) of section 624.501, Florida
  123  Statutes, is amended to read:
  124         624.501 Filing, license, appointment, and miscellaneous
  125  fees.—The department, commission, or office, as appropriate,
  126  shall collect in advance, and persons so served shall pay to it
  127  in advance, fees, licenses, and miscellaneous charges as
  128  follows:
  129         (20) Adjusting firm, original or renewal 3-year
  130  license...................................................$60.00
  131         Section 4. Present subsection (9) of section 626.112,
  132  Florida Statutes, is redesignated as subsection (10) and
  133  amended, a new subsection (9) is added to that section, and
  134  paragraph (d) of subsection (7) of that section is amended, to
  135  read:
  136         626.112 License and appointment required; agents, customer
  137  representatives, adjusters, insurance agencies, service
  138  representatives, managing general agents, insurance adjusting
  139  firms.—
  140         (7)
  141         (d)Effective October 1, 2015, the department must
  142  automatically convert the registration of an approved registered
  143  insurance agency to an insurance agency license.
  144         (9)(a)An individual, a firm, a partnership, a corporation,
  145  an association, or any other entity may not act in its own name
  146  or under a trade name, directly or indirectly, as an adjusting
  147  firm unless it complies with s. 626.8696 with respect to
  148  possessing an adjusting firm license for each place of business
  149  at which it engages in an activity that may be performed only by
  150  a licensed insurance adjuster. However, an adjusting firm that
  151  is owned and operated by a single licensed adjuster conducting
  152  business in his or her individual name and not employing or
  153  otherwise using the services of or appointing other licensees is
  154  exempt from the adjusting firm licensing requirements of this
  155  subsection.
  156         (b)A branch place of business that is established by a
  157  licensed adjusting firm is considered a branch firm and is not
  158  required to be licensed if:
  159         1.It transacts business under the same name and federal
  160  tax identification number as the licensed adjusting firm;
  161         2.It has designated with the department a primary adjuster
  162  operating the location as required by s. 626.8695; and
  163         3.The address and telephone number of the branch location
  164  have been submitted to the department for inclusion in the
  165  licensing record of the licensed adjusting firm within 30 days
  166  after insurance transactions begin at the branch location.
  167         (c)If an adjusting firm is required to be licensed but
  168  fails to apply for licensure in accordance with this subsection,
  169  the department must impose an administrative penalty of up to
  170  $10,000 on the firm.
  171         (10)(9) Any person who knowingly transacts insurance or
  172  otherwise engages in insurance activities in this state without
  173  a license in violation of this section or who knowingly aids or
  174  abets an unlicensed person in transacting insurance or otherwise
  175  engaging in insurance activities in this state without a license
  176  commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in
  177  s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
  178         Section 5. Subsection (4) is added to section 626.602,
  179  Florida Statutes, to read:
  180         626.602 Insurance agency names; disapproval.—The department
  181  may disapprove the use of any true or fictitious name, other
  182  than the bona fide natural name of an individual, by any
  183  insurance agency on any of the following grounds:
  184         (4)The name contains the word “Medicare” or “Medicaid.” An
  185  insurance agency whose name contains the word “Medicare” or
  186  “Medicaid” but which is licensed as of July 1, 2021, may
  187  continue to use that name until June 30, 2023, provided that the
  188  agency’s license remains valid. If the agency’s license expires
  189  or is suspended or revoked, the agency may not be relicensed
  190  using that name. Licenses for agencies with names containing
  191  either of these words automatically expire on July 1, 2023,
  192  unless these words are removed from the name.
  193         Section 6. Subsections (16) and (17) are added to section
  194  626.621, Florida Statutes, to read:
  195         626.621 Grounds for discretionary refusal, suspension, or
  196  revocation of agent’s, adjuster’s, customer representative’s,
  197  service representative’s, or managing general agent’s license or
  198  appointment.—The department may, in its discretion, deny an
  199  application for, suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew or continue
  200  the license or appointment of any applicant, agent, adjuster,
  201  customer representative, service representative, or managing
  202  general agent, and it may suspend or revoke the eligibility to
  203  hold a license or appointment of any such person, if it finds
  204  that as to the applicant, licensee, or appointee any one or more
  205  of the following applicable grounds exist under circumstances
  206  for which such denial, suspension, revocation, or refusal is not
  207  mandatory under s. 626.611:
  208         (16)Taking an action that allows the personal financial or
  209  medical information of a consumer or customer to be made
  210  available or accessible to the general public, regardless of the
  211  format in which the record is stored.
  212         (17)Initiating in-person or telephone solicitation after 9
  213  p.m. or before 8 a.m. local time of the prospective customer
  214  unless requested by the prospective customer.
  215         Section 7. Section 626.782, Florida Statutes, is amended to
  216  read:
  217         626.782 “Industrial class insurer” defined.—An “industrial
  218  class insurer” is an insurer collecting premiums on policies of
  219  writing industrial life insurance, as defined in s. 627.502,
  220  written before July 1, 2021, and as to such insurance, operates
  221  under a system of collecting a debit by its agent.
  222         Section 8. Section 626.783, Florida Statutes, is amended to
  223  read:
  224         626.783 “Ordinary-combination class insurer” defined.—An
  225  “ordinary-combination class insurer” is an insurer writing both
  226  ordinary class insurance and collecting premiums on existing
  227  industrial life class insurance as defined by s. 627.502.
  228         Section 9. Section 626.796, Florida Statutes, is repealed.
  229         Section 10. Subsections (6), (11), (15), and (19) of
  230  section 626.854, Florida Statutes, are amended, and subsections
  231  (20) and (21) are added to that section, to read:
  232         626.854 “Public adjuster” defined; prohibitions.—The
  233  Legislature finds that it is necessary for the protection of the
  234  public to regulate public insurance adjusters and to prevent the
  235  unauthorized practice of law.
  236         (6) An insured or claimant may cancel a public adjuster’s
  237  contract to adjust a claim without penalty or obligation within
  238  10 3 business days after the date on which the contract is
  239  executed or within 3 business days after the date on which the
  240  insured or claimant has notified the insurer of the claim,
  241  whichever is later. The public adjuster’s contract must contain
  242  the following language in minimum 18-point bold type: “You, the
  243  insured, may cancel this contract for any reason without penalty
  244  or obligation to you within 10 days after the date of this
  245  contract by providing notice to ...(name of public adjuster)...,
  246  submitted in writing and sent by certified mail, return receipt
  247  requested, or other form of mailing that provides proof thereof,
  248  at the address specified in the contract disclose to the insured
  249  or claimant his or her right to cancel the contract and advise
  250  the insured or claimant that notice of cancellation must be
  251  submitted in writing and sent by certified mail, return receipt
  252  requested, or other form of mailing that provides proof thereof,
  253  to the public adjuster at the address specified in the contract;
  254  provided, during any state of emergency as declared by the
  255  Governor and for 1 year after the date of loss, the insured or
  256  claimant has 5 business days after the date on which the
  257  contract is executed to cancel a public adjuster’s contract.
  258         (11) Each public adjuster must provide to the claimant or
  259  insured a written estimate of the loss to assist in the
  260  submission of a proof of loss or any other claim for payment of
  261  insurance proceeds within 60 days after the date of the
  262  contract. The written estimate must include an itemized, per
  263  unit estimate of the repairs, including itemized information on
  264  equipment, materials, labor, and supplies, in accordance with
  265  accepted industry standards. The public adjuster shall retain
  266  such written estimate for at least 5 years and shall make the
  267  estimate available to the claimant or insured, the insurer, and
  268  the department upon request.
  269         (15) A licensed contractor under part I of chapter 489, or
  270  a subcontractor of such licensee, may not advertise, solicit,
  271  offer to handle, handle, or perform public adjuster services as
  272  provided in s. 626.854(1) adjust a claim on behalf of an insured
  273  unless licensed and compliant as a public adjuster under this
  274  chapter. The prohibition against solicitation does not preclude
  275  a contractor from suggesting or otherwise recommending to a
  276  consumer that the consumer consider contacting his or her
  277  insurer to determine if the proposed repair is covered under the
  278  consumer’s insurance policy. In addition However, the contractor
  279  may discuss or explain a bid for construction or repair of
  280  covered property with the residential property owner who has
  281  suffered loss or damage covered by a property insurance policy,
  282  or the insurer of such property, if the contractor is doing so
  283  for the usual and customary fees applicable to the work to be
  284  performed as stated in the contract between the contractor and
  285  the insured.
  286         (19) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, no
  287  person, except an attorney at law or a licensed public adjuster,
  288  may for money, commission, or any other thing of value, directly
  289  or indirectly:
  290         (a) Prepare, complete, or file an insurance claim for an
  291  insured or a third-party claimant;
  292         (b) Act on behalf of or aid an insured or a third-party
  293  claimant in negotiating for or effecting the settlement of a
  294  claim for loss or damage covered by an insurance contract;
  295         (c) Offer to initiate or negotiate a claim on behalf of an
  296  insured;
  297         (d) Advertise services that require a license for
  298  employment as a public adjuster; or
  299         (e)(d) Solicit, investigate, or adjust a claim on behalf of
  300  a public adjuster, an insured, or a third-party claimant.
  301         (20)The department may take administrative actions and
  302  impose fines against any persons performing claims adjusting,
  303  soliciting, or any other services described in this section
  304  without the licensure required under this section or s. 626.112.
  305         (21)A public adjuster, public adjuster apprentice, or
  306  public adjusting firm that solicits a claim and does not enter
  307  into a contract with an insured or a third-party claimant
  308  pursuant to paragraph (10)(a) may not charge an insured or a
  309  third-party claimant or receive payment by any other source for
  310  any type of service related to the insured or third-party
  311  claimant’s claim.
  312         Section 11. Effective January 1, 2022, subsection (3) of
  313  section 626.916, Florida Statutes, is amended, and paragraph (f)
  314  is added to subsection (1) of that section, to read:
  315         626.916 Eligibility for export.—
  316         (1) No insurance coverage shall be eligible for export
  317  unless it meets all of the following conditions:
  318         (f)The insured has signed or otherwise provided documented
  319  acknowledgment of a disclosure in substantially the following
  320  form: “You are agreeing to place coverage in the surplus lines
  321  market. Coverage may be available in the admitted market.
  322  Persons insured by surplus lines carriers are not protected
  323  under the Florida Insurance Guaranty Act with respect to any
  324  right of recovery for the obligation of an insolvent unlicensed
  325  insurer.”
  326         (3)(a) Subsection (1) does not apply to wet marine and
  327  transportation or aviation risks that which are subject to s.
  328  626.917.
  329         (b) Paragraphs (1)(a)-(d) do not apply to classes of
  330  insurance which are subject to s. 627.062(3)(d)1. These classes
  331  may be exportable under the following conditions:
  332         1. The insurance must be placed only by or through a
  333  surplus lines agent licensed in this state;
  334         2. The insurer must be made eligible under s. 626.918; and
  335         3. The insured has complied with paragraph (1)(f) must sign
  336  a disclosure that substantially provides the following: “You are
  337  agreeing to place coverage in the surplus lines market. Superior
  338  coverage may be available in the admitted market and at a lesser
  339  cost. Persons insured by surplus lines carriers are not
  340  protected under the Florida Insurance Guaranty Act with respect
  341  to any right of recovery for the obligation of an insolvent
  342  unlicensed insurer.” If the disclosure notice is signed by the
  343  insured, the insured is presumed to have been informed and to
  344  know that other coverage may be available, and, with respect to
  345  the diligent-effort requirement under subsection (1), there is
  346  no liability on the part of, and no cause of action arises
  347  against, the retail agent presenting the form.
  348         Section 12. Paragraph (z) of subsection (1) of section
  349  626.9541, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  350         626.9541 Unfair methods of competition and unfair or
  351  deceptive acts or practices defined.—
  353  ACTS.—The following are defined as unfair methods of competition
  354  and unfair or deceptive acts or practices:
  355         (z) Sliding.—Sliding is the act or practice of any of the
  356  following:
  357         1. Representing to the applicant that a specific ancillary
  358  coverage or product is required by law in conjunction with the
  359  purchase of insurance when such coverage or product is not
  360  required.;
  361         2. Representing to the applicant that a specific ancillary
  362  coverage or product is included in the policy applied for
  363  without an additional charge when such charge is required.; or
  364         3. Charging an applicant for a specific ancillary coverage
  365  or product, in addition to the cost of the insurance coverage
  366  applied for, without the informed consent of the applicant.
  367         4.Initiating, effectuating, binding, or otherwise issuing
  368  a policy of insurance without the prior informed consent of the
  369  owner of the property to be insured.
  370         5.Mailing, transmitting, or otherwise submitting by any
  371  means an invoice for premium payment to a mortgagee or escrow
  372  agent, for the purpose of effectuating an insurance policy,
  373  without the prior informed consent of the owner of the property
  374  to be insured. However, this subparagraph does not apply in
  375  cases in which the mortgagee or escrow agent is renewing
  376  insurance or issuing collateral protection insurance, as defined
  377  in s. 624.6085, pursuant to the mortgage or other pertinent loan
  378  documents or communications regarding the property.
  379         Section 13. Effective January 1, 2022, subsection (3) of
  380  section 626.9741, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  381         626.9741 Use of credit reports and credit scores by
  382  insurers.—
  383         (3) An insurer must inform an applicant or insured, in the
  384  same medium as the application is taken, that a credit report or
  385  score is being requested for underwriting or rating purposes.
  386  The notification to the consumer must include the following
  387  language: “The Department of Financial Services offers free
  388  financial literacy programs to assist you with insurance-related
  389  questions, including how credit works and how credit scores are
  390  calculated. To learn more, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com.” An
  391  insurer that makes an adverse decision based, in whole or in
  392  part, upon a credit report must provide at no charge, a copy of
  393  the credit report to the applicant or insured or provide the
  394  applicant or insured with the name, address, and telephone
  395  number of the consumer reporting agency from which the insured
  396  or applicant may obtain the credit report. The insurer must
  397  provide notification to the consumer explaining the reasons for
  398  the adverse decision. The reasons must be provided in
  399  sufficiently clear and specific language so that a person can
  400  identify the basis for the insurer’s adverse decision. Such
  401  notification shall include a description of the four primary
  402  reasons, or such fewer number as existed, which were the primary
  403  influences of the adverse decision. The use of generalized terms
  404  such as “poor credit history,” “poor credit rating,” or “poor
  405  insurance score” does not meet the explanation requirements of
  406  this subsection. A credit score may not be used in underwriting
  407  or rating insurance unless the scoring process produces
  408  information in sufficient detail to permit compliance with the
  409  requirements of this subsection. It shall not be deemed an
  410  adverse decision if, due to the insured’s credit report or
  411  credit score, the insured continues to receive a less favorable
  412  rate or placement in a less favorable tier or company at the
  413  time of renewal except for renewals or reunderwriting required
  414  by this section.
  415         Section 14. Subsection (5) of section 626.9953, Florida
  416  Statutes, is amended to read:
  417         626.9953 Qualifications for registration; application
  418  required.—
  419         (5) An applicant must submit a set of his or her
  420  fingerprints to the department and pay the processing fee
  421  established under s. 624.501(23) s. 624.501(24). The department
  422  shall submit the applicant’s fingerprints to the Department of
  423  Law Enforcement for processing state criminal history records
  424  checks and local criminal records checks through local law
  425  enforcement agencies and for forwarding to the Federal Bureau of
  426  Investigation for national criminal history records checks. The
  427  fingerprints shall be taken by a law enforcement agency, a
  428  designated examination center, or another department-approved
  429  entity. The department may not approve an application for
  430  registration as a navigator if fingerprints have not been
  431  submitted.
  432         Section 15. Subsection (1) of section 626.9957, Florida
  433  Statutes, is amended to read:
  434         626.9957 Conduct prohibited; denial, revocation, or
  435  suspension of registration.—
  436         (1) As provided in s. 626.112, only a person licensed as an
  437  insurance agent or customer representative may engage in the
  438  solicitation of insurance. A person who engages in the
  439  solicitation of insurance as described in s. 626.112(1) without
  440  such license is subject to the penalties provided under s.
  441  626.112(10) s. 626.112(9).
  442         Section 16. Subsection (10) of section 627.062, Florida
  443  Statutes, is amended to read:
  444         627.062 Rate standards.—
  445         (10) Any interest paid pursuant to s. 627.70131(7) s.
  446  627.70131(5) may not be included in the insurer’s rate base and
  447  may not be used to justify a rate or rate change.
  448         Section 17. Section 627.502, Florida Statutes, is amended
  449  to read:
  450         627.502 “Industrial life insurance” defined; reporting;
  451  prohibition on new policies after a certain date.—
  452         (1) For the purposes of this code, “industrial life
  453  insurance” is that form of life insurance written under policies
  454  under which premiums are payable monthly or more often, bearing
  455  the words “industrial policy” or “weekly premium policy” or
  456  words of similar import imprinted upon the policies as part of
  457  the descriptive matter, and issued by an insurer that which, as
  458  to such industrial life insurance, is operating under a system
  459  of collecting a debit by its agent.
  460         (2) Every life insurer servicing existing transacting
  461  industrial life insurance shall report to the office all annual
  462  statement data regarding the exhibit of life insurance,
  463  including relevant information for industrial life insurance.
  464         (3)Beginning July 1, 2021, a life insurer may not write a
  465  new policy of industrial life insurance.
  466         Section 18. Effective January 1, 2022, section 627.70131,
  467  Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  468         627.70131 Insurer’s duty to acknowledge communications
  469  regarding claims; investigation.—
  470         (1)(a) Upon an insurer’s receiving a communication with
  471  respect to a claim, the insurer shall, within 14 calendar days,
  472  review and acknowledge receipt of such communication unless
  473  payment is made within that period of time or unless the failure
  474  to acknowledge is caused by factors beyond the control of the
  475  insurer which reasonably prevent such acknowledgment. If the
  476  acknowledgment is not in writing, a notification indicating
  477  acknowledgment shall be made in the insurer’s claim file and
  478  dated. A communication made to or by a representative an agent
  479  of an insurer with respect to a claim shall constitute
  480  communication to or by the insurer.
  481         (b) As used in this subsection, the term “representative”
  482  “agent” means any person to whom an insurer has granted
  483  authority or responsibility to receive or make such
  484  communications with respect to claims on behalf of the insurer.
  485         (c) This subsection does shall not apply to claimants
  486  represented by counsel beyond those communications necessary to
  487  provide forms and instructions.
  488         (2) Such acknowledgment must shall be responsive to the
  489  communication. If the communication constitutes a notification
  490  of a claim, unless the acknowledgment reasonably advises the
  491  claimant that the claim appears not to be covered by the
  492  insurer, the acknowledgment must shall provide necessary claim
  493  forms, and instructions, including an appropriate telephone
  494  number.
  495         (3)(a) Unless otherwise provided by the policy of insurance
  496  or by law, within 14 10 working days after an insurer receives
  497  proof of loss statements, the insurer shall begin such
  498  investigation as is reasonably necessary unless the failure to
  499  begin such investigation is caused by factors beyond the control
  500  of the insurer which reasonably prevent the commencement of such
  501  investigation.
  502         (b)If such investigation involves a physical inspection of
  503  the property, the licensed adjuster assigned by the insurer must
  504  provide the policyholder with a printed or electronic document
  505  containing his or her name and state adjuster license number.
  506         (c)Any subsequent communication with the policyholder
  507  regarding the claim must also include the name and license
  508  number of the adjuster communicating about the claim.
  509  Communication of the adjuster’s name and license number may be
  510  included with other information provided to the policyholder.
  511         (4) An insurer shall maintain a record or log of each
  512  adjuster who communicates with the policyholder as provided in
  513  paragraphs (3)(b) and (c) and provide a list of such adjusters
  514  to the insured, office, or department upon request.
  515         (5) For purposes of this section, the term “insurer” means
  516  any residential property insurer.
  517         (6)(a)When providing a preliminary or partial estimate of
  518  damage regarding a claim, an insurer shall include with the
  519  estimate the following statement printed in at least 12-point
  520  bold, uppercase type: THIS ESTIMATE REPRESENTS OUR CURRENT
  525         (b)When providing a payment on a claim which is not the
  526  full and final payment for the claim, an insurer shall include
  527  with the payment the following statement printed in at least 12
  528  point bold, uppercase type: WE ARE CONTINUING TO EVALUATE YOUR
  532  US.
  533         (7)(a)(5)(a) Within 90 days after an insurer receives
  534  notice of an initial, reopened, or supplemental property
  535  insurance claim from a policyholder, the insurer shall pay or
  536  deny such claim or a portion of the claim unless the failure to
  537  pay is caused by factors beyond the control of the insurer which
  538  reasonably prevent such payment. Any payment of an initial or
  539  supplemental claim or portion of such claim made 90 days after
  540  the insurer receives notice of the claim, or made more than 15
  541  days after there are no longer factors beyond the control of the
  542  insurer which reasonably prevented such payment, whichever is
  543  later, bears interest at the rate set forth in s. 55.03.
  544  Interest begins to accrue from the date the insurer receives
  545  notice of the claim. The provisions of this subsection may not
  546  be waived, voided, or nullified by the terms of the insurance
  547  policy. If there is a right to prejudgment interest, the insured
  548  shall select whether to receive prejudgment interest or interest
  549  under this subsection. Interest is payable when the claim or
  550  portion of the claim is paid. Failure to comply with this
  551  subsection constitutes a violation of this code. However,
  552  failure to comply with this subsection does not form the sole
  553  basis for a private cause of action.
  554         (b) Notwithstanding subsection (5) (4), for purposes of
  555  this subsection, the term “claim” means any of the following:
  556         1. A claim under an insurance policy providing residential
  557  coverage as defined in s. 627.4025(1);
  558         2. A claim for structural or contents coverage under a
  559  commercial property insurance policy if the insured structure is
  560  10,000 square feet or less; or
  561         3. A claim for contents coverage under a commercial tenant
  562  policy if the insured premises is 10,000 square feet or less.
  563         (c) This subsection does shall not apply to claims under an
  564  insurance policy covering nonresidential commercial structures
  565  or contents in more than one state.
  566         (8)This section also applies to surplus lines insurers and
  567  surplus lines insurance authorized under ss. 626.913-626.937
  568  providing residential coverage.
  569         Section 19. Effective January 1, 2022, section 627.7142,
  570  Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  571         627.7142 Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights.—An insurer
  572  issuing a personal lines residential property insurance policy
  573  in this state must provide a Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights to
  574  a policyholder within 14 days after receiving an initial
  575  communication with respect to a claim, unless the claim follows
  576  an event that is the subject of a declaration of a state of
  577  emergency by the Governor. The purpose of the bill of rights is
  578  to summarize, in simple, nontechnical terms, existing Florida
  579  law regarding the rights of a personal lines residential
  580  property insurance policyholder who files a claim of loss. The
  581  Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights is specific to the claims
  582  process and does not represent all of a policyholder’s rights
  583  under Florida law regarding the insurance policy. The Homeowner
  584  Claims Bill of Rights does not create a civil cause of action by
  585  any individual policyholder or class of policyholders against an
  586  insurer or insurers. The failure of an insurer to properly
  587  deliver the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights is subject to
  588  administrative enforcement by the office but is not admissible
  589  as evidence in a civil action against an insurer. The Homeowner
  590  Claims Bill of Rights does not enlarge, modify, or contravene
  591  statutory requirements, including, but not limited to, ss.
  592  626.854, 626.9541, 627.70131, 627.7015, and 627.7074, and does
  593  not prohibit an insurer from exercising its right to repair
  594  damaged property in compliance with the terms of an applicable
  595  policy or ss. 627.7011(5)(e) and 627.702(7). The Homeowner
  596  Claims Bill of Rights must state:
  598                          HOMEOWNER CLAIMS                         
  599                           BILL OF RIGHTS                          
  600         This Bill of Rights is specific to the claims process
  601         and does not represent all of your rights under
  602         Florida law regarding your policy. There are also
  603         exceptions to the stated timelines when conditions are
  604         beyond your insurance company’s control. This document
  605         does not create a civil cause of action by an
  606         individual policyholder, or a class of policyholders,
  607         against an insurer or insurers and does not prohibit
  608         an insurer from exercising its right to repair damaged
  609         property in compliance with the terms of an applicable
  610         policy.
  612         YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO:
  613         1. Receive from your insurance company an
  614         acknowledgment of your reported claim within 14 days
  615         after the time you communicated the claim.
  616         2. Upon written request, receive from your
  617         insurance company within 30 days after you have
  618         submitted a complete proof-of-loss statement to your
  619         insurance company, confirmation that your claim is
  620         covered in full, partially covered, or denied, or
  621         receive a written statement that your claim is being
  622         investigated.
  623         3. Within 90 days, subject to any dual interest
  624         noted in the policy, receive full settlement payment
  625         for your claim or payment of the undisputed portion of
  626         your claim, or your insurance company’s denial of your
  627         claim.
  628         4.Receive payment of interest, as provided in s.
  629         627.70131, Florida Statutes, from your insurance
  630         company, which begins accruing from the date your
  631         claim is filed if your insurance company does not pay
  632         full settlement of your initial, reopened, or
  633         supplemental claim or the undisputed portion of your
  634         claim or does not deny your claim within 90 days after
  635         your claim is filed. The interest, if applicable, must
  636         be paid when your claim or the undisputed portion of
  637         your claim is paid.
  638         5. Free mediation of your disputed claim by the
  639         Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of
  640         Consumer Services, under most circumstances and
  641         subject to certain restrictions.
  642         6.5. Neutral evaluation of your disputed claim,
  643         if your claim is for damage caused by a sinkhole and
  644         is covered by your policy.
  645         7.6. Contact the Florida Department of Financial
  646         Services, Division of Consumer Services’ toll-free
  647         helpline for assistance with any insurance claim or
  648         questions pertaining to the handling of your claim.
  649         You can reach the Helpline by phone at...(toll-free
  650         phone number)..., or you can seek assistance online at
  651         the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division
  652         of Consumer Services’ website at...(website
  653         address)....
  655         YOU ARE ADVISED TO:
  656         1. File all claims directly with your insurance
  657         company.
  658         2. Contact your insurance company before entering
  659         into any contract for repairs to confirm any managed
  660         repair policy provisions or optional preferred
  661         vendors.
  662         3.2. Make and document emergency repairs that are
  663         necessary to prevent further damage. Keep the damaged
  664         property, if feasible, keep all receipts, and take
  665         photographs or video of damage before and after any
  666         repairs to provide to your insurer.
  667         4.3. Carefully read any contract that requires
  668         you to pay out-of-pocket expenses or a fee that is
  669         based on a percentage of the insurance proceeds that
  670         you will receive for repairing or replacing your
  671         property.
  672         5.4. Confirm that the contractor you choose is
  673         licensed to do business in Florida. You can verify a
  674         contractor’s license and check to see if there are any
  675         complaints against him or her by calling the Florida
  676         Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
  677         You should also ask the contractor for references from
  678         previous work.
  679         6.5. Require all contractors to provide proof of
  680         insurance before beginning repairs.
  681         7.6. Take precautions if the damage requires you
  682         to leave your home, including securing your property
  683         and turning off your gas, water, and electricity, and
  684         contacting your insurance company and provide a phone
  685         number where you can be reached.
  686         Section 20. Paragraph (a) of subsection (1) and subsection
  687  (6) of section 631.57, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  688         631.57 Powers and duties of the association.—
  689         (1) The association shall:
  690         (a)1. Be obligated to the extent of the covered claims
  691  existing:
  692         a. Prior to adjudication of insolvency and arising within
  693  30 days after the determination of insolvency;
  694         b. Before the policy expiration date if less than 30 days
  695  after the determination; or
  696         c. Before the insured replaces the policy or causes its
  697  cancellation, if she or he does so within 30 days of the
  698  determination.
  699         2. The obligation under subparagraph 1. includes only the
  700  amount of each covered claim which is in excess of $100 and is
  701  less than $300,000, except that policies providing coverage for
  702  homeowner’s insurance must shall provide for an additional
  703  $200,000 for the portion of a covered claim which relates only
  704  to the damage to the structure and contents.
  705         3.a. Notwithstanding subparagraph 2., the obligation under
  706  subparagraph 1. for policies covering condominium associations
  707  or homeowners’ associations, which associations have a
  708  responsibility to provide insurance coverage on residential
  709  units within the association, includes shall include that amount
  710  of each covered property insurance claim which is less than
  711  $200,000 multiplied by the number of condominium units or other
  712  residential units; however, as to homeowners’ associations, this
  713  sub-subparagraph applies only to claims for damage or loss to
  714  residential units and structures attached to residential units.
  715         b. Notwithstanding sub-subparagraph a., the association has
  716  no obligation to pay covered claims that are to be paid from the
  717  proceeds of bonds issued under s. 631.695. However, the
  718  association shall assign and pledge the first available moneys
  719  from all or part of the assessments to be made under paragraph
  720  (3)(a) to or on behalf of the issuer of such bonds for the
  721  benefit of the holders of such bonds. The association shall
  722  administer any such covered claims and present valid covered
  723  claims for payment in accordance with the provisions of the
  724  assistance program in connection with which such bonds have been
  725  issued.
  726         4. In no event shall The association may not be obligated
  727  to a policyholder or claimant in an amount in excess of the
  728  obligation of the insolvent insurer under the policy from which
  729  the claim arises.
  730         (6) The association may extend the time limits specified in
  731  paragraph (1)(a) by up to an additional 60 days or waive the
  732  applicability of the $100 deductible specified in paragraph
  733  (1)(a) if the board determines it is that either or both such
  734  actions are necessary to facilitate the bulk assumption of
  735  obligations.
  736         Section 21. Subsection (2) of section 631.904, Florida
  737  Statutes, is amended to read:
  738         631.904 Definitions.—As used in this part, the term:
  739         (2) “Covered claim” means an unpaid claim, including a
  740  claim for return of unearned premiums, which arises out of, is
  741  within the coverage of, and is not in excess of the applicable
  742  limits of, an insurance policy to which this part applies, which
  743  policy was issued by an insurer and which claim is made on
  744  behalf of a claimant or insured who was a resident of this state
  745  at the time of the injury. The term “covered claim” includes
  746  unpaid claims under any employer liability coverage of a
  747  workers’ compensation policy limited to the lesser of $300,000
  748  or the limits of the policy. The term “covered claim” does not
  749  include any amount sought as a return of premium under any
  750  retrospective rating plan; any amount due any reinsurer,
  751  insurer, insurance pool, or underwriting association, as
  752  subrogation recoveries or otherwise; or any claim that would
  753  otherwise be a covered claim that has been rejected or denied by
  754  any other state guaranty fund based upon that state’s statutory
  755  exclusions, including, but not limited to, those based on
  756  coverage, policy type, or an insured’s net worth, except this
  757  exclusion from the definition of covered claim does not apply to
  758  employers who, prior to April 30, 2004, entered into an
  759  agreement with the corporation preserving the employer’s right
  760  to seek coverage of claims rejected by another state’s guaranty
  761  fund; or any return of premium resulting from a policy that was
  762  not in force on the date of the final order of liquidation.
  763  Member insurers have no right of subrogation against the insured
  764  of any insolvent insurer. This provision applies retroactively
  765  to cover claims of an insolvent self-insurance fund resulting
  766  from accidents or losses incurred prior to January 1, 1994,
  767  regardless of the date the petition in circuit court was filed
  768  alleging insolvency and the date the court entered an order
  769  appointing a receiver.
  770         Section 22. Except as otherwise expressly provided in this
  771  act, this act shall take effect upon becoming a law.