HomeHome InsuranceFlorida Lawmakers Approve Surplus Takeouts but Stop Short on Nonrenewal Limits

Florida Lawmakers Approve Surplus Takeouts but Stop Short on Nonrenewal Limits

A number of property insurance-related bills were introduced in the Florida Legislature this year – from a fundamental change to the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. coverage model to further limiting policy cancellations after a storm. But only a handful of measures ended up on their way to the governor as the session came to a close Friday afternoon.

Here’s a look at some of the most significant changes that passed and some that did not pass:

Bills That Did Not Make It:

A plan to make financing of lawsuits by third-party investors more transparent and to limit financiers’ ability to influence the outcomes of cases died in committee. The American Property Casualty Insurance Association called the bill a good start and hoped to revive the legislation in the future.

The “agents’ bill,” Senate Bill 1104 and its companion, House Bill 1149, appeared headed for approval at one point in the session. SB 1104 passed the Senate, but the House Bill did not advance and the House did not take up the Senate version. The House bill would have allowed the Florida insurance commissioner to prohibit some policy cancellations and nonrenewals for flood-damaged properties in certain ZIP codes, for up to 270 days after a hurricane, with exceptions.

The Florida Association of Insurance Agents supported most of the changes the measures would have brought, but other agents said those were unnecessary. Some carriers’ leadership expressed concerns about handcuffing insurers’ abilities to drop policies when homes have not been repaired for months.

Bills That Passed

Some parts of those bills were ultimately included in HB 1611, a measure requested by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. That bill, if signed into law, will apply current-law cancellation restrictions (no cancellations or nonrenewals until 90 days after repairs are complete) to surplus lines carriers, explained Laura Pearce, general counsel for FAIA.

But HB 1611 left out a key provision barring nonrenewals on flood-damaged homes.

The bill also would require insurers to report data, known as QUASR, to the OIR on a monthly basis, instead of quarterly, and it would have to be reported by ZIP codes, not counties. It also would allow the state Financial Services Commission to adopt new rules on how insurers must provide notice to regulators on planned nonrenewals of more than 10,000 policies.

That same piece of legislation also extends current statutes regarding OIR’s regulatory reach to include reciprocal insurance exchanges, which have grown in number in Florida in recent years. The wording also spells out changes to the certificate of authority and acquisition process.

The law takes effect July 1. The text of the bill can be seen here. A legislative analysis is here.

HB 1503, if signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, will allow surplus lines carriers to make takeout offers on Citizens’ policies that cover second homes that are non-homesteaded. Some lawmakers had said this change would provide more options for snow birds and others with vacation homes that have struggled to find affordable coverage, and would take those properties off Citizens’ book of business.

But others worried that it would mean claims would not be backed by the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association in case of a surplus lines carrier insolvency. It’s far from certain if many surplus carriers will be interested in the takeouts. An earlier version, to allow the insurance commissioner to raise coverage caps on Citizens’ homeowner policies, did not make into the final bill.

HB 7073, a wide-ranging taxation bill, passed both chambers. It would waive the 1.75% premium tax on residential property policies, including flood policies, for one year and would suspend the current 1% FIGA assessment, giving homeowners a small measure of relief, former deputy state Insurance Commissioner Lisa Miller reported.

The Insurance Information Institute has estimated the savings would amount to just a few hundred dollars a year, on average, for homeowners.

SB 7028, if signed into law, would provide another $200 million in funding for the very popular My Safe Florida Home program, which grants up to $10,000 for homeowners to make wind-fortification improvements in exchange for premium discounts. The bill also would require that the program prioritize grants and inspections for homeowners age 60 and over.

HB 1029 would create a similar, pilot program known as My Safe Florida Condominium. It would provide matching grants for condo associations and owners to retrofit buildings to resist hurricane winds, within certain financial limits. Lawmakers separately provided $30 million in funding for the inspection and grant program.

Photo: Florida legislative leaders participate in the traditional “Sine die” hanky drop at the end of the 2024 Florida Legislative Session, Friday in Tallahassee. (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP)


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