June 19, 2013
Our firm’s first-party property coverage department will be pleased to speak with you now or in the future should you face questions regarding the changes to the statutes, how they may impact individual claims or the recent decisions interpreting insurance policies.
Although property insurance and claim adjustment were targets of scrutiny in the 2013 regular session of the Florida Legislature, the few bills that passed did so without sweeping changes to the insurance statutes. The Legislature passed House Bills 73, 157, 223, 573 & 7015 and Senate Bill 1770 and they were signed by Governor Scott on June 14, 2013, unless noted otherwise. The provisions of the bills become law on July 1, 2013, unless otherwise provided for in the bills. These bills contain minor changes in, and additions to, Florida’s property insurance laws that will impact the underwriting, adjustment and litigation of insurance claims. Below is a summary of the significant changes contained in the new laws.
House Bill 73
- Creates Fla. Stat. §718.406 which defines primary condominium associations and secondary condominium associations (located within the primary association). Authorizes the primary condominium association to provide insurance for common elements and other improvements within the secondary condominium association, as permitted by the declarations. Indicates that the primary condominium association declarations control over the secondary condominium association in the event of a conflict.
House Bill 157
- Modifies Fla. Stat. §627.421 for authorized insurance carriers to allow an insurance policy to be delivered by “electronic transmission.” Electronic transmission of a policy for commercial risks constitutes delivery to the insured unless the insured elected not to receive delivery electronically. The electronic delivery must include a notice of the right to receive the policy by U.S. mail.
House Bill 223
- Creates Fla. Stat. §627.421(4) for authorized insurance carriers which provides that property and casualty policies and endorsements that do not contain personally identifiable information may be posted on the insurer’s website (instead of delivered to an insured) as long as (a) the policy and endorsement is easily accessible; (b) the insurer archives all expired policies and endorsements for five years after their expiration and they are available upon request; (c) the policy and endorsement are in a format that can be printed and saved; (d) the insured is notified of the right to request and obtain a printed or electronic copy of the policy at no charge; (e) the declarations clearly identify the exact policy and endorsement Memorandum for Clients of Butler Pappas June 19, 2013 Page 2 forms; and (f) if the insurer changes the policy or endorsement, the insurer must notify the insured.
House Bill 573
- Modifies Fla. Stat. §627.351 to require Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to provide coverage for manufactured or mobile home dwellings. This coverage includes screened enclosures, carports and patios that have a roof covering. This Bill was signed by Governor Scott on June 12, 2013. (This has no effect on other residential policies issued by Citizens). House Bill 7015 Modifies Fla. Stat. §90.702 and §90.704 regarding the testimony by expert witnesses. The bill rejects the Frye standard and provides a three-part test to determine whether or not expert testimony will be admitted in a particular case. This bill adopts a standard commonly referred to as the Daubert standard, which requires the court to determine if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data; (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case. This is a major change in the admissibility of expert testimony in Florida courtrooms in favor of the standard utilized in federal courts since June 28, 1993. This Bill was signed by Governor Scott on June 4, 2013.
Senate Bill 1770
- Modifies Fla. Stat. §626.854 to provide that “any maneuver, shift or device” through which a public adjuster attempts to exceed the limits of compensation (10% for a year after a declaration of emergency and 20% for all other claims) is punishable by a fine and/or suspension or revocation of the public adjuster’s license. Requires the public adjuster to meet or communicate with the insurer in an effort to reach an agreement as to the scope of the covered loss and provides that a public adjuster cannot acquire any interest in salvaged property, except with the written consent and permission of the insured through a signed affidavit. This Bill was signed by Governor Scott on May 29, 2013.
Our firm’s first-party property coverage department will be pleased to speak with you now or in the future should you face questions regarding the changes to the statutes, how they may impact individual claims or recent decisions interpreting insurance policies. Please feel free to call upon John Pappas, Lee Craig, Doug Berry, Jerry Albrecht, Bill Lewis, Scott Frank, Alan Nisberg, Bill Wallis (Tallahassee), Pablo Cáceres, Gina Smith (Tallahassee), Christina Fears, Tom Keller, John Garaffa, Lori Vella, David Maldoff, Rick Parker (Tallahassee), Janice Buchman, Diane Barnes-Reynolds or Curt Allen at any time as questions arise.