Crist Vetoes Condo Bill
By: David Yon
Upset that the Condo Glitch Bill (SB 714) delayed the deadline for retrofitting common areas of condominiums with fire sprinklers from 2014 to 2025, Governor Crist vetoed the bill in early June.
The bill had been a high priority of a number of insurer groups because of the confusion caused in the current condo law, chapter 718, Florida Statutes. The bill contained language designed to clarify when condo associations had responsibility for coverage for common areas and when the coverage might be the responsibility of the unit owner.
The bill also replaced the term "special assessment coverage" with the more specific term "loss assessment coverage" and included a $250 deductible in the loss assessment. The bill also would have deleted a statutory provision allowing associations to force-place coverage on unit owners when the unit owners do not maintain their own policies. In addition, the bill would have eliminated a current requirement for insurers to identify the associations as additional named insureds and loss payees on insurance policies. These provisions have proven to be unpopular and have created challenges in implementation, so the industry worked with key legislators to have them eliminated for current law. Unfortunately, with the bill’s veto on other grounds, the industry will have to try again in 2010 to remove the troublesome language.
Crist in his veto letter acknowledged that the bill contained "several changes to laws that are important to Floridians residing in condominiums." But he said the provision that delayed the retrofitting requirement for fire sprinklers – which Gov. Jeb Bush had vetoed in 2006 – "presents an unacceptable safety risk, especially to Florida’s elderly condominium residents."
In his veto message, Crist said he was directing the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to initiate "a comprehensive review of actual retrofit costs and the impacts retrofitting may have on insurance premiums." He said that department may hold workshops to solicit input from insurers and other stakeholders. Crist asked the department to submit its findings and recommendations by Oct. 1, 2009.