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During the most recent State of Florida legislative session that ended on April 30th there were several insurance related bills that passed. Today we will go over some of the significant changes from Senate Bill 76 that may impact the Florida homeowner’s market.

1. Notice of property insurance claims.

This bill specifies a property insurance claim or reopened claim must be provided to the authorized or surplus lines insurer within 2 years of the date of loss. A supplemental claim is barred unless notice is provided to the insurer within 3 years after the date of loss.

2. Lawsuits arising under property insurance policies.

A claimant must provide DFS with written notice of intent to initiate litigation at least 10 business days before filing suit.

Attorney fees and costs are awarded based on a formula that compares the amount obtained by the claimant in excess of the insurer’s presuit settlement offer (exclusive of attorney fees and costs) with the disputed amount between the two parties (the difference between the claimant’s presuit settlement demand and the insurer’s presuit settlement offer, also exclusive of attorney fees and costs).

If the amount obtained by the claimant in excess of the insurer’s presuit settlement offer is:

* Less than 20 percent of the disputed amount, each party pays its own attorney fees and costs.

* At least 20 percent but less than 50 percent of the disputed amount, the insurer pays the claimant’s attorney fees equal to the percentage of the disputed amount obtained times the total attorney fees and costs.

* At least 50 percent of the disputed amount, the insurer pays the claimant’s full attorney fees and costs.

3. Prohibited property insurance practice by contractors.

This bill will prohibit contractors from soliciting residential homeowners to file an insurance claim for roof claim.

4. Regulatory oversight of property insurers.

The bill requires insurers to annually file, with the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR), specified data on residential and commercial property insurance closed claims.

5. Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.

The bill provides that a personal lines residential risk seeking to be newly insured by Citizens Property Insurance Corporation is ineligible for coverage if it receives an offer of comparable coverage from an authorized insurer that is not more than 20 percent higher than the Citizens premium, rather than the current 15 percent eligibility threshold for new policyholders.

6. Consolidation of multiple residential property suits.

The bill requires each party that is aware of ongoing multiple actions, based upon coverage provided under the same residential property insurance policy for the same property and owners, must provide written notice to the court of the multiple actions. Once the court receives notice, it may order that the actions be consolidated and transferred to the court having jurisdiction based on the total amount in controversy of all consolidated claims. If multiple cases are pending in circuit courts, the cases may be consolidated based on the date the first case was filed.

If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2021.

The above is just a brief overview of the bill. To read the bill please go to: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2021/76/BillText/er/HTML