In the closing moments of the legislative session, the House and Senate passed a 99-page property insurance bill that avoided major controversies. The session began with many insurers seeking the ability to raise rates without regulatory approval, along with tighter restrictions on sinkhole claims and hurricane loss mitigation discounts.
As enacted, SB 2044 by Senate Banking and Insurance Chair Garrett Richter (R-Naples) avoided all three of those controversies. The final version of the bill included several issues that were priorities for the Office of Insurance Regulation, including increases in the minimum surplus required of property insurers, greater regulatory authority over managing general agents and other affiliates of property insurers, and an extension on the prohibition of “use and file” rates, under which insurers implement rate changes before obtaining regulatory approval.
The bill also includes restrictions on public adjusters that were a priority for property insurers. The bill restricts public adjusters' ability to solicit business from policyholders, imposes a three-year deadline for hurricane claims, and sets limits on public adjusters' commissions. The final version of the bill revises the process for establishing mitigation discounts to assure that the value of the discounts will not exceed an insurer's expected reduction in hurricane losses, but the bill does not address fraudulent or erroneous mitigation inspections, which was another insurance industry priority.
In another last-minute action, the Legislature also passed SB 2176 by Sen. Durell Peaden (R-Crestview), which deregulates ratemaking for most forms of commercial property and casualty insurance.