Governor Signs Property Insurance Bill
Governor Ron DeSantis has signed this year’s primary property insurance bill, SB 76, into law. Most of the bill’s provisions take effect July 1, 2021.
The legislature passed SB 76 after extended debate leading into and during the 2021 legislative session. As is often the case during the legislative process, the final bill reflects a series of compromises. Bill sponsors are optimistic it will help curtail abuses that have plagued the Florida property insurance market. Others are unsure, taking a wait-and-see approach and expressing concern that the market’s problems are too ingrained for a comprise bill to have enough impact. In signing the bill, Governor DeSantis expressed hope the bill will have a favorable impact while also acknowledging the potential need for further action in the future. “It’s something that we’re working on, and we’re watching very closely,” DeSantis said. “But I think the Legislature did, by and large, a pretty good job on addressing it. But we’re probably going to have to do more going forward.”
Among the changes that will take effect on July 1, the bill:
- Gradually increases the cap on Citizens Property Insurance Corporation rate changes from 10% to 15% over a five-year period;
- Attempts to curtail abuses with roofing claims by limiting contractors’ ability to solicit homeowners to file claims and by preventing public adjusters from offering certain incentives;
- Modifies Florida’s one-way attorneys’ fee statute at section 627.428 such that policyholders’ attorneys might not recover fees or might recover only a portion of their fees depending on cases’ ultimate outcomes in relation to initial demands; and
- Reduces the time period for filing new and reopened claims from three years to two years and extends this requirement to all types of claims rather than just hurricane claims.
The new law also will require insurers to provide significant claims data to the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) annually to allow the OIR to monitor claims and litigation trends.