Florida’s chief monetary officer went to the Legislature this spring with a simple request: grant additional protections to customers dealing with home insurance firms.
But the push by Jeff Atwater is in significant jeopardy. That is because insurers, such as State Farm Florida, are only inclined to accept the extra protections if they come with other changes that could support maintain their costs down.
And that is proving to be a big issue.
The Home and Senate are now divided more than the situation and are advancing extremely different versions of the bill. It’s a signal that virtually halfway by means of the Legislature’s 60-day session that the bill could easily die.
“I really hope some important customer stuff is not lost in the fight,” Atwater said.
Atwater says he’s pushing the bill in reaction to 1000’;s of calls his offices receive from buyers confused about how to file a declare when their residence is broken by a storm or a fire. Atwater oversees the state’s insurance coverage client advocate office.
The bill would develop a “homeowner claims bill of rights” that requires insurers to spell out to house owners what they can expect when they file a claim.
The legislation also would prohibit insurance firms from making use of credit information to deny a claim or cancel a policy if the policy has been in impact for more than 90 days. This provision came out of a dispute between regulators and one of Florida’s greatest insurance coverage companies.
Atwater explained that the Legislature has offered consumers particular rights above the many years, “but consumers don’t have a bookshelf at house with these statutes. They are not conversant in this.”
But some insurers want a separate provision that would area limits on when a house owner can signal in excess of to a contractor the right to gather payments directly from an insurance coverage firm. They contend that this is a looming issue and that some firms hired to resolve roofs and fix water harm have inflated the charges. With no the alter the fear it is could drive up homeowner insurance coverage costs when once again.
Atwater at first backed this provision and mentioned there are spots the place it is currently being abused. But the provision has drawn opposition from contractors and earlier this month a Senate panel voted to strip it out of the bill (SB 708).
Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, explained at the time he couldn’t comprehend why the provision dealing with “assignment of benefits” couldn’t stand or fall on its very own in a separate bill.
But Mark Delegal, a lobbyist for State Farm Florida, told legislators that his business would likely oppose the bill with no this provision. He explained that the other provisions — like the “homeowner claims bill of rights” — would drive up costs for insurers and the initial bill was a “nice balanced package deal.”
The Property, however, is advancing a bill that includes the assignment clause sought by insurers.
Rep. Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka and chairman of the Property Insurance and Banking subcommittee, said he will not support the bill unless that provision stays.
“That’s the greatest difficulty we have, the fraud we have going on,” Nelson said.
Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs and chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, contended legislators will consider to work out some sort of compromise just before the session wraps up in early May possibly.
“I consider it is premature to consider the place that any provision is dead,” Simmons stated.
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