Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher on Wednesday joined two key lawmakers in pushing legislation to require insurance companies to clearly outline what is covered in homeowners insurance policies.
The measure would also call for insurers to spell out hurricane deductibles available to homeowners and the financial consequences of each choice. Finally, the legislation would give homeowners the option to purchase a standard homeowners insurance policy, much like the basic and standard health insurance plans offered in Florida .
“The recent hurricanes were devastating personally and financially for many Floridians,” said Gallagher. “Thousands have told us they did not realize how much their insurance policies required them to pay in a high deductible as well as for property they thought was covered. We need to do everything we can to make sure homeowners insurance policies are easy to understand, clearly outline coverage and disclose what the policyholder is financially responsible for in the event of a storm.”
The consumer protection bill is being sponsored by Sen. Rudy Garcia, of Hialeah, and Rep. Joe Negron, of Stuart. Garcia called the legislation, “just plain common sense. We need to take the often confusing language in insurance policies and make it clear and understandable.”
Negron agreed, “If we people are required to buy insurance, they deserve to know and understand what protections are in their policies. They need to have these items outlined in a plain and simple manner.”
The policyholder protection legislation would require:
* Insurers to offer a standard ” apples to apples” policy.
* Insurance policies to include a checklist of household and personal items that are covered.
* Disclosure of all exclusions and limitations.
* Policies to clearly spell out cancellation and renewal rules.
* Policies to disclose the actual costs of hurricane deductibles and how each deductible affects premium costs.
The bill calls for the creation of an advisory committee that will file recommendations for the standard policy language by Jan. 1, 2006.
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