• Florida House of Representatives' Insurance and Banking Subcommittee Reviews Sinkhole Repair, Omnibus Insurance Bills
  • February 13, 2014
  • Law Firm: Colodny Fass P.A. - Fort Lauderdale Office
  • The Florida House of Representatives' Insurance and Banking Subcommittee ("Subcommittee") met today, February 11, 2014.

    State Representative Raburn presented House Bill 129, relating to Insurance to the Subcommittee. The bill establishes the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation ("Citizens") "Sinkhole Stabilization Repair Program" ("Program") and requires Citizens to submit a bi-annual report on the number of residential sinkhole policies requested, issued, declined and the reasons for a policy being declined. The bill also includes components for the Program, specifies Citizens' liability and requires specific sinkhole loss coverage deductible amounts.

    State Representative Jones asked why it is necessary to change the law when Citizens already has the ability to do what the bill provides. Representative Raburn explained that Citizens has a claims ratio of 400 percent and the goal is to get policyholders back in their homes as soon as possible.

    Citizens Director of Legislative Affairs Christine Ashburn testified in support of HB 129. Ms. Ashburn explained that Senate Bill 408 in 2011 "went a long way," but Citizens believes there are more loopholes that need to be addressed and this bill does that. Citizens wants to ensure that every possible repair is made and nothing in this bill dictates or changes current law on how those repairs are made, she said. This bill and the current Voluntary Program give the consumer choice, but provide recommendations on trustworthy contractors. Citizens hopes to approve additional contractors in its Board of Governors meeting in March 2014 and subsequently provide consumers with a list of 20 pre-approved contractors.

    Representatives from the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Realtors also testified in support of the bill. There was no debate and the bill passed through the Subcommittee unanimously.

    Also known as the "Omnibus Bill," House Bill 565 relating to Insurance was presented to the Subcommittee by its sponsor, State Representative Santiago. The bill makes changes to boiler inspectors and revises the deadline for filing certain financial statements. The bill also amends statutes relating to insurance agents, neutral evaluators, the use of hurricane models, retrospective ratings of workers' compensation policies, and cancellation and nonrenewal statutes. HB 565 removes provisions of law relating to the filing a quarterly affidavit with the Florida Surplus Lines Service Office neutral evaluators.

    Representative Santiago filed a strike-all amendment that was adopted by the Subcommittee. He also filed an amendment to the strike-all amendment that was adopted by the Subcommittee. The amendment to the strike-all amendment simply removes unnecessary language in the strike-all amendment that was already in law.

    Representatives from the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Florida Association of Insurance Agents testified in support of the strike-all amendment. The bill passed through the Subcommittee unanimously as amended.