Florida’s Insurance Bill Favors Insurance Companies Over Policyholders – Elected Officials Sell Out to Big Insurance
On December 14, 2022, Florida lawmakers gave the insurance industry the biggest historic gift in the last hundred years with insurance reforms that benefit the insurance industry – not you, the policyholder.
I spent the last few days in Tallahassee arguing over a dozen amendments asking for some consumer protections the would guarantee rate reductions and protections for policyholders when their insurance companies deny, delay, or underpay insurance claims.
Your supermajority legislature made no attempts to have any discussions about changes to the proposed legislation that would benefit you the policyholder. It was evident from the beginning that your legislature had specific directions from leadership that there would not be one change to the proposed legislation dropped late last Friday night.
This legislation was proposed and passed within a record time (less than 2 business days). The legislation did not contain one change from what was originally proposed. Not one part of this legislation requires insurance companies to lower insurance premiums for policyholders. Some of the provisions actually make Citizens Property Insurance Corporations’ Insureds buy more insurance, like flood insurance.
Not one part of this legislation provides any consumer protections that consumers may avail themselves of when the insurance company deny, delay, or underpay the insurance claim.
The legislative changes are as follows:
- Allows insurance companies to force policyholders to mandatory binding arbitration, a dispute resolution process that forbids the policyholder from access to the Courts. This arbitration process is heavily weighted in favor of the insurance company and could be required to take place in other states such as New York, Kentucky, or Texas.
- Removes policyholders’ ability to get reimbursed their attorney’s fees when they successfully challenge the insurance company’s denial or underpayment of their claim in a court of law unless they go all the way through trial and get a judgment.
- Creates a $1 billion taxpayer-funded bailout program for insurance companies to buy reinsurance, a bailout. This is in addition to the $2 billion dollar program that was passed a mere 6 months ago.
- Practically extinguishes an insured’s ability to bring a “bad faith” claim lawsuit to hold their insurance company accountable for engaging in improper claims handling conduct towards its policyholders unless an insured goes all the way through a trial and proves a breach of contract. This will encourage insurance companies to deny, delay, and underpay claims with no recourse as long as the company demands an appraisal or arbitration to resolve a dispute.
- Allows insurance companies to electronically and remotely investigate and adjust insurance claims, and therefore an adjuster may never be required to visit your damaged home.
- Reduces the time frame for a policyholders to reopen claims to 1 year and to file supplemental claims to 18 months. Basically, policyholders will now have only 18 months to complete all repairs to their home or forgo their right to be reimbursed for their damages under their policy.
- Requires homeowners covered by state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to buy more insurance coverage. Everyone with a Citizens policy would have to buy flood insurance. Even if you have a condominium unit on the 40th floor or a building you will be required to file for flood insurance that you will never use.
- Changes the burden of proof to make Citizens’ policyholders prove that water damage is from wind damage rather than the burden on the insurer to prove that the flood caused the damage.
There were more than two dozen proposed amendments to this legislation that were suggested over the last two days. I testified on more than a dozen amendments to the legislation and how they could help and protect policyholders during their most important time of need. Not one amendment was met with any meaningful questions, conversation, or voted in favor of by your supermajority legislature.
Without any guarantee of any rate reform for the policyholder, your legislators have sold out all policyholders in favor of the billion-dollar insurance industry. This is the largest gift the Florida legislature has given to the state’s insurance industry in history, and it all happened overnight. Merry Christmas to the Insurance Industry from your friendly politicians.