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Florida Property Bill SB 408 "Temporarily Postponed" in House


By Joan E. Collier
May 3, 2011
Original article here

SB 408 was heard on the Florida House of Representatives' Special Order Calendar this morning and was promptly "temporarily postponed" after Rep. John Wood, R-Winter Haven, filed a strike-all amendment.

The comprehensive property insurance package, which has picked up the moniker the "cost driver bill," passed the Senate on a vote of 25-12 on April 28.

There are a number of issues on which the two chambers disagree, including: the statute of limitation on property insurance claims; changes in non-renewal and cancellation of policy timelines; Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund reimbursement details; capital and surplus requirement; public adjuster reforms; actual cash value and replacement cash value proposals; and a long list of details and processes concerning sinkhole claims and coverage.

The bill also includes language regarding Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Florida's largest property insurer with over 1.3 million policies. According to Katie Webb of the law firm Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate, who has closely been tracking this and other insurance bills, the issues relating to Citizens include Senate provisions that:

  • State that public adjusters cannot make more than 10 percent of additional amount paid over original offer by Citizens
  • Change the name of Citizens High-Risk Account to "Coastal"
  • Make surcharges payable at cancellation or termination of policy
  • Outsource certain functions
  • State that policies cannot cover appurtenant structures in sinkhole coverage
  • Require that the agent get a signed form that insured is aware of surcharges/assessments
  • Include conflict of interest provisions for Citizens' board members
  • Exempt sinkholes from the 10 percent glide-path

A day and time for moving the bill forward in the House have not been established. A new lobbying group called Florida Association for Insurance Reform is scheduled to hold a protest rally this afternoon in Tallahassee.

[For those unfamiliar with how bills make their way through the chambers, Foley & Lardner LLP, offered this explanation in a March 14 newsletter: Article III, s. 7 of the Florida Constitution requires that bills be read three times, on separate days, before passage by either chamber of the Legislature. Reflecting the "three readings" requirement, the Legislature generally organizes bills by Calendars-the Second Reading Calendar (referred to as "2R"), the Special Order Calendar (referred to as "SO"), and the Third Reading Calendar (referred to as "3R"). Rule 10 in the House and Rule 4 in the Senate generally govern these calendars of the Legislature. A bill is placed on the Second Reading Calendar after having passed out of all of its committees of reference. A bill is placed on the Special Order Calendar by direct action of the relevant legislative committee that sets the Special Order Calendar. Once a bill on the Special Order Calendar is read on the floor of the relevant chamber and any amendments are acted upon, the bill is placed on the Third Reading Calendar. After the third reading on the floor, amendments may be taken up, the final form of the bill is debated, and a final "roll call" vote of the chamber is taken. Incidentally, the first reading of a bill is usually a non-event, accomplished by publishing the bill title in a journal of the relevant chamber.]