A rescue invoice that goals to chop losses and litigation bills for Florida property insurers handed a state Senate committee Monday, its final cease earlier than a ground vote within the full Senate.
However with simply 11 days remaining within the 2022 session, and vital variations between Senate and Home measures, it’s removed from sure that SB 1728 will make it into the legislation books. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 18-2 on Monday to approve the invoice, which insurance coverage business advocates have mentioned is one of the best hope to stem losses from aggressive roofing contractors and a unbroken surge of lawsuits over claims – and to assist forestall extra carriers from turning into bancrupt and elevating premiums.
“We’ve acquired to get our arms round this downside. It’s costing our constituents sums that the majority of them can not afford to pay,” mentioned Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, the sponsor of SB 1728.
The assembly got here a couple of days after regulators introduced that St. Johns Insurance coverage Co. had turn into bancrupt. Six different Florida carriers have introduced they are going to cease writing new enterprise or non-renew some insurance policies.
The controversy within the committee assembly Monday centered largely on a bit of the invoice that will enable extra insurance policies to cowl the precise money worth of roofs when they’re broken, versus full-replacement worth now required for many insurance policies. The measure additionally would let insurers supply insurance policies with deductibles only for roofs, as much as 2% of the coverage limits.
After the deductible is paid, the house owner would obtain full-replacement worth for the roof, Boyd defined.
Sen. Daryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, objected to the concept householders must pay 1000’s to satisfy a deductible earlier than they may see any insurance coverage advantages paid to a contractor. However the committee voted down his modification.
Hollywood, Florida, lawyer Hillary Cassel testified that the invoice offers full alternative worth for roofs solely when broken by named hurricanes. She steered permitting that protection for twister and different storms. Boyd mentioned that if a house is hit by a twister, it would seemingly endure heavy losses.
“If it’s greater than 50% broken, that’s a complete loss and it’ll get full alternative,” he mentioned.
Cassel, whose agency represents policyholders, additionally mentioned the invoice doesn’t define insurers’ duties. Householders may face months-long delays earlier than they see any payout on insurance policies, she mentioned.
Others urged swift motion on the invoice.
“We’re in all probability in a property insurance coverage disaster bigger than we’ve seen since Hurricane Andrew” in 1992, mentioned Gary Guzzo, a lobbyist for Floridian Companions and a former state insurance coverage regulator.
He famous that earlier Legislatures have made statutory modifications which have resulted in vital enhancements within the insurance coverage area, together with lowered employees’ compensation prices after 2003 modifications, and diminished losses after sinkhole insurance coverage reforms in 2016. Guzzo instructed lawmakers they’ll save the day once more with SB 1728.
An identical invoice within the Home, HB 1307, has made its manner via two Home committees and is awaiting a vote on the ground. However that measure differs from SB 1728 in some key areas, and it’s not clear if the 2 chambers would have the ability to iron out variations earlier than the session ends.
Florida legislation limits the session to 60 days, which is able to make March 11 the ultimate day.
Additionally Monday, the Appropriations Committee permitted SB 1874, which might require insurance coverage companies to inform clients forward of time when an company is to be closed; and it will scale back penalties for small companies for employees’ compensation violations.
The panel additionally handed SB 1292, which will increase penalties on unlicensed public adjusters who violate the legislation, amongst different provisions.
Prime picture: Lobbyist Gary Guzzo at Monday’s Senate committee listening to.
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