OIR Advises Courts Forms Approval Should Not Be Required for Surplus Lines
By: Travis Miller
In earlier editions of the Florida Insurance Report, we have summarized the Essex and CNL Hotels cases finding that surplus lines products are not exempt from the entirety of Chapter 627 of the insurance code, and raising the possibility that surplus lines forms should be filed for approval. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation recently filed an amicus brief supporting a request for panel rehearing in the CNL Hotels case, and has filed a similar affidavit in a case involving surplus lines issues pending in St. Johns County, Florida. The OIR argues that it “does not now, nor has it ever” required surplus lines insurers to submit forms for review and approval under Section 627.410. The OIR further asserts this year’s Essex opinion does not require a conclusion that Section 627.410 requires approval of surplus lines forms.
The OIR points to several provisions of Florida’s Surplus Lines Law that would create statutory contradictions if Section 627.410 were to apply. For example, the Surplus Lines Law states that surplus lines forms cannot be more favorable than those prevailing in the admitted market. The OIR and insurers could not comply with this requirement if the OIR were to apply the review criteria of Section 627.410 to both surplus lines and admitted policies. Further, certain responsibilities traditional borne by admitted insurers are assigned to surplus lines agents and the Florida Surplus Lines Service Office for surplus lines policies, again suggesting that the legislature could not have meant for Section 627.410 to apply to surplus lines. Finally, the OIR suggests that applying Section 627.410 to surplus lines policies would create staffing burdens beyond existing resources.