Gov. Jeb Bush signed a bill today that will enact a new homeowner’s insurance law as Florida’s CFO Tom Gallagher stood by to applaud the governor and state lawmakers for enacting the law, which provides significant new consumer protections for Floridians.
“The unprecedented string of four catastrophic hurricanes that Florida weathered last year revealed gaps where homeowners encountered surprises in their policies due to confusing language or inadequate disclosures,” Gallagher said. “In the town hall meetings I hosted we learned that Floridians wanted simpler and more transparent insurance policies; this law answers that need.”
Alongside Gov. Bush at the signing of the homeowners’ bill, Gallagher said, “Florida could not have asked for finer leadership during last year’s hurricanes than that provided by Gov. Bush. I was proud to work with him during Florida’s recovery and I am proud to stand with him as he signs this important legislation.”
The legislation built many new provisions into the Florida insurance code for homeowners, mobile homeowners and condominium policies including:
• Prohibits non-renewing homeowners’ policies who have sustained hurricane damage until 90 days after the home is completely repaired.
• Ends the practice of paying only the lower actual cash value for repairs and contents and requires the full replacement cost amount to be paid up front.
• Creates a mandatory policy checklist that the agent must fill out, detailing what is covered and what is not covered by the policy.
• Increases to 50 percent the amount insurers must offer to pay for a home that is required to be rebuilt to updated and more expensive building codes.
• Provides funding for the DFS Consumer Advocate to increase staff to review rate decisions made by Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation.
• Requires insurance companies to spell out how much a hurricane deductible could potentially cost a policyholder and requires disclosure of all available discounts. In December, legislation was passed limiting hurricane deductibles to one per season.
• Requires a public hearing for requested rate hikes exceeding 15 percent.
• Orders Citizens Property Insurance Company to institute numerous customer response and service improvements.
• Requires the development of standard apples-to-apples policies that can be easily shopped and compared from company to company.
• Expedites the claims process by requiring an insurer to pay a claim or begin communication with the insured regarding the claim within 14 days.
“Now that we have achieved passage of this bill, I am turning my attention to making sure that insurance companies do not misuse last year’s hurricanes to seek unjustified rate hikes,” said Gallagher. “I have asked Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty to redouble his office’s efforts to provide rigid reviews of any rate requests that are filed. He has assured me that rate requests that are not actuarially justified will be rejected.”
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