What Passed, What Didn’t: New Florida Laws Taking Effect July 1

The Florida Legislature looked at and passed many pieces of legislation in the 2019 session that will impact the insurance industry. The following are summaries of what passed — and what didn’t.

What Passed
HB 7065 – AOB Reform
Provides for substantial changes in the way insurance benefits may be assigned to third parties. Defines “assignment agreement” and establishes requirements for the execution, validity, and effect of such an agreement; Transfers certain pre-lawsuit duties under the insurance contract to the assignee and shifts the burden to the assignee to prove that any failure to carry out such duties has not limited the insurer’s ability to perform under the contract; Requires each insurer to report specified data on claims paid in the prior year under assignment agreements by Jan. 30, 2022, and each year thereafter; allows an insurer to make available a policy prohibiting assignment, in whole or in part, under certain conditions; Revises the state’s one-way attorney fee statute to incorporate an attorney fee structure in determining the fee amount awarded in suits by an assignee against an insurer; requires service providers to give an insurer and the consumer prior written notice of at least 10 business days before filing suit on a claim. Read more: What to Expect from Florida’s AOB Reform Law Taking Effect July 1
Signed by Governor: May 23, 2019
Takes Effect: July 1, 2019

HB 301 – Insurance “Omnibus” bill
Allows insurers to provide multi-policy discounts when homeowners and auto policies are purchased through the same agent; increases the reimbursement from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund for loss adjustment expenses from 5 percent to 10 percent of reimbursed losses beginning with contracts issued after June 1, 2019; provides that workers’ compensation insurance applicants and their agents are not required to have their sworn statements notarized. Also enacts several updates for the Florida Surplus Lines industry, including eliminating a prescriptive cap on surplus lines agent policy fees (currently $35) and replacing it with a requirement that the fee be “reasonable” and separately disclosed to the customer. In addition, the residential dwelling replacement cost has been decreased to $700,000 from $1 million as it relates to “diligent effort” procedures. Makes changes to civil remedy notices and the appraisal process. Read more: How the Florida ‘Omnibus’ Insurance Bill Will Impact Insurer Duty to Defend, Appraisal; Florida Passes ‘Catch All’ Insurance Bill Impacting Surplus Lines, Catastrophe Fund
Signed by Governor: June 18, 2019
Takes Effect: July 1, 2019

HB 617 – Flood Insurance Disclosure
Revises circumstances under which insurers issuing homeowners insurance policies must include a specified statement relating to flood insurance with policy documents at initial issuance and renewals. Fixes an oversight in previous legislation that required property insurance policies to prominently display that they don’t provide flood or other coverages, which didn’t contemplate “endorsement” of coverages onto property insurance policies. This bill requires the flood insurance portion of the notice only when the policy does not include flood coverage.
Signed by Governor: June 7, 2019
Takes Effect: July 1, 2019

HB 107 – Hands Free Driving Requirement
Prohibits a person from operating a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device in a handheld manner in a designated school crossing, school zone or work zone; authorizes a law enforcement officer during a specified period to stop motor vehicles to issue warnings to persons who are driving while using a wireless communications device in a handheld manner in a designated school crossing, school zone or work zone; requires all law enforcement agencies to maintain such information and report it to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in a form and manner determined by the department, etc. Read more: Florida Lawmakers Pass Text While Driving Ban, Hands-Free Requirement
Signed by Governor: May 17, 2019
Takes Effect: July 1, 2019

HB 311 – Autonomous Vehicles
Exempts autonomous vehicles and operators from certain prohibitions; provides that human operator is not required to operate fully autonomous vehicle; authorizes fully autonomous vehicle to operate regardless of presence of human operator; provides that automated driving system is deemed operator of autonomous vehicle operating with system engaged; provides requirements for insurance and operation of on-demand autonomous vehicle networks; revises registration requirements for autonomous vehicles; provides for uniformity of laws governing autonomous vehicles. Read more: Florida Hopes to Lure Autonomous Car Companies Under New Law
Signed by Governor: June 13, 2019
Takes Effect: July 1, 2019

SB 1024 – Blockchain Technology Task Force
Establishes the Florida Blockchain Task Force within the Florida Department of Financial Services that will develop a specified master plan specifying duties and procedures of the task force, etc., related to blockchain technology. According to CFO Jimmy Patronis, who championed the bill, blockchain technology increases the difficulty of amending transaction records and creates a “vital avenue of transparency for the state.”
Signed by Governor: May 23, 2019
Takes Effect: July 1, 2019

HB 1393 – Modifies Areas Regulated by the Florida Department of Financial Services
Amends various licensing statutes administered by the Division of Agent and Agency services, including creating a temporary license for personal lines agents; gives DFS authority to help insurance consumers understand the mediation process; and helps to more easily return unclaimed property to Floridians. Also provides DFS the discretion to deny, suspend, revoke or refuse to continue an insurance agency license on the grounds that another jurisdiction has taken an adverse action against a professional license held by a majority owner, partner, manager, director, officer or other controlling person of the agency.
Signed by Governor: June 25, 2019
Takes Effect: July 1, 2019

HB 7091 – Hurricane and Flood Loss Model Trade Secrets
Removes the scheduled repeal date of the public record and public meeting exemptions maintaining that the public record exemption for a trade secret used in designing and constructing a hurricane or flood loss model and provided by a private company to the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology, the Office of Insurance Regulation, or the consumer advocate; removes the public meeting exemption for any portion of a Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology meeting or of a rate proceeding on an insurer’s rate filing at which such confidential and exempt trade secret is discussed; and removes the public record exemption for the recording of an exempt meeting.
Signed by Governor: May 14, 2019
Takes Effect: Oct. 1, 2019

SB 426 – Firefighters Cancer Benefits
Makes firefighters who are diagnosed with certain cancers eligible to receive certain disability or death benefits. In lieu of pursuing workers’ compensation coverage, a firefighter is entitled to cancer treatment and a one-time cash payout of $25,000, upon the firefighter’s initial diagnosis of cancer.
Signed by Governor: May 3, 2019
Takes Effect: July 1, 2019

HB 1253 – Prescription Drug Monitoring Program
Gives Florida Attorney General access to information in the state’s prescription drug database to track sales of opioids. The move will help the AG’s efforts to sue drug manufacturers and pharmacies for overselling pain pills. Patient information will be protected.
Signed by Governor: June 24, 2019
Takes Effect: July 1, 2019

SB 983 – First Responder PTSD:
Ratified DFS’ rules related to workers’ compensation wage replacement benefits that are now provided in specified circumstances for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suffered by a first responder, regardless of whether the individual’s PTSD is accompanied by a physical injury requiring medical treatment. Specifies the types of third-party injuries qualifying as grievous bodily harm of a nature that shocks the conscience for the purposes of allowing wage replacement benefits for first responder PTSD.
Signed by Governor: June 25, 2019
Takes Effect: Upon becoming law
What Didn’t Pass
HB 323 – Motor Vehicle Insurance Coverage for Windshield Glass
Bill called for prohibiting motor vehicle repair shops and employees from offering anything of value to customers in exchange for making insurance claims for motor vehicle glass replacement and repair, including offers made through certain persons.

SB 1052 – Motor Vehicle Insurance/Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Bill called for repealing provisions that comprise the Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law.

HB 7077 – Medical Malpractice
Bill called for specifying that patients had waived their right to bring medical malpractice action under limited circumstances and created an optional communication and resolution program.

SB 538/HB 387 – Nonadmitted Insurance Markets
Bills would have made several changes to Florida Surplus Lines law.

HB 751 – Duty of Good Faith
Bill called for removing the violation of duty of good faith from claims for civil remedies; providing an administrative remedy for violation of duty of good faith; provided notice and complaint requirements; required DFS to determine sufficiency of complaints.

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