Session Heads Into Final Week
The 2018 Florida legislative session is drawing to a close, barring any extensions or subsequent special sessions. This year’s session has been unusual for issues outside of the typical annual cycles of budgets and other expected business. The 2018 session began with a lot of attention directed to the range of relationships between legislators, staff and lobbyists, including whether some relationships were consensual or whether they involved harassment. Of course, priorities and attention later changed on February 14 when a gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and killed 17 people. Since then, the executive branch and the legislature have been immersed in crafting new measures attempting to deal with school safety issues. The legislature will continue to try to bridge its philosophical divides on these issues for the remainder of this week.
Insurance issues pale in comparison to the public safety issues currently in front of the legislature. Still, Florida has a widely-recognized problem with water damage claims and “assignment of benefits” (AOB) issues. This problem is leading to rate increases and in some cases to less availability in certain areas, but 2018 appears to be another year in which the legislature fails to come up with a solution. The logical result, which has been outlined repeatedly in testimony before the legislature, is that rates will continue to go up in the private market and in Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. Citizens also is increasingly likely to find that it is not the market of last resort but instead is the only available market in key areas of Florida.
The legislature also considered concerns with Florida’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP), or no-fault, auto insurance system. Frustrations with PIP have led to calls to repeal it, but the legislature has not been able to agree on the details of a replacement. It therefore appears that PIP will survive another year.