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Department Home | Agent and Agency Home | Insurance Insights Home

  Vol. 8, No. 4 - June 2019

In The Know

2019 Legislative Update housesenate

A number of legislative bills have been signed into law and others are pending Governor Ron DeSantis' approval. We are providing some of the provisions in the bills listed, but the bill may include more than we are showing:

Shielding Law Enforcement Animals

Senate Bill 96: Increases the penalty for intentionally and knowingly causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or death to, or using a deadly weapon upon, police canines or horses, fire canines, or SAR canines, etc.

Effective Date: October 1, 2019, Chapter No. 2019-9, Laws of Florida

Insurance

House Bill 301:

Applications for Insurance - provides that workers compensation insurance applicants and their agents are not required to have their sworn statements notarized.

Surplus Lines Export Eligibility - Lowers the home value threshold (dwelling replacement cost) to $700,000 or more for exporting a residential property insurance policy to a surplus lines insurer with only one declination. Three declinations are still required for exporting residential property insurance policies for dwellings with a replacement cost under $700,000). Amends the definition of "Diligent Effort", s. 626.914(4), F.S.

Lowers the threshold for the dwelling replacement cost of a residential structure from $1 million to $700,000 when requiring only one declination. Any dwelling with a replacement cost of less than $700,000 will require three declinations as part of the diligent effort done by the retail (general lines) agent. If the home is valued at $700,000 or more, then only one declination will be required, although agents are free to obtain more.

Unfair Insurance Trade Practices/Loss Control and Mitigation - Permits an insurer or agent to offer and give insureds goods or services of any value for the purposes of loss control or loss mitigation related to covered risks.

Secondary Notice to Life Insurance Policy Lapse - Requires a life insurer to notify the servicing agent at least 21 days before a life insurance policy lapses in addition to the insured and a second person designated by the insurer, except when the insurer provides an online method for the agent to identify lapsing policies or a process for the agent to determine that the pre-lapse notice was sent to the insured; the insurer has no record of the agent servicing the policy or the agent is employed by the insurer.

Prepayment of Motor Vehicle Insurance Premium - Reduces the minimum amount of premium which must be collected for motor vehicle insurance at the initial issue of a policy from two months' premium to one month.

Agent Fees - removes the $35 cap on the per-policy fee surplus lines agents may charge for each policy exported to the surplus lines market. The filing surplus lines agent may charge a reasonable policy fee that must be itemized separately for the customer before purchase and enumerated in the policy

Allows retail agents to receive a reasonable per-policy fee on exported policies; the per-policy fee must be itemized separately for the consumer before purchase. This fee must be itemized separately to the customer before purchase. This fee is not required to be shown in the policy.

Applications for Insurance - Provides that workers’ compensation insurance applicants and their agents are not required to have their sworn statements notarized.

Effective Date: July 1, 2019, Chapter No. 2019-108, Laws of Florida

NOTE:

Residential Flood Protection s. 627.715(4), F.S.
Currently, the law allows a surplus agent to export a personal lines residential flood policy without requiring a diligent effort. This exemption will expire on July 1, 2019. No extension was passed; thus all residential flood risks will be subject to Diligent Effort requirements on July 1, 2019.

 

Health Plans

Senate Bill 322: Revising eligibility requirements for multiple-employer welfare arrangements; authorizing health insurers and health maintenance organizations to create new health insurance policies and health maintenance contracts meeting certain criteria for essential health benefits under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA); defining the terms "operative date" and "preexisting medical condition" with respect to individual and group health insurance policies, respectively, etc.

Effective Date: June 25, 2019, Chapter 2019-129, Laws of Florida

Electronic Legal Documents

House Bill 409: Authorizes remote notarization and the use of an electronic will. The bill provides definitions for online notarization and the technology required; procedures, standards, and requirements for online notarization; registration requirements for online notaries; a certificate to be used by online notaries; standards for supervising the witnessing of electronic records; authorizes the use of an electronic will; and provides a means for self-proving, storing, and filing an electronic will.

Effective Date: January 1, 2020, Chapter No. 2019-71, Laws of Florida

Protecting Florida's Firefighters from Cancer

Senate Bill 426: Grants certain benefits to a firefighter upon receiving a diagnosis of cancer if certain conditions are met; requires an employer to make certain disability payments to a firefighter in the event of a total and permanent disability; provides for death benefits to a firefighter's beneficiary if a firefighter dies as a result of cancer or cancer treatments; adjusts the allocation of funds to provide line-of-duty death benefits for members in the investment plan of the Florida Retirement System, etc.

Effective Date: July 1, 2019, Chapter No. 2019-21, Laws of Florida

Blockchain Technology Task Force

Senate Bill 1024: Blockchain Technology; Establishing the Florida Blockchain Task Force within the Department of Financial Services; requiring the task force to develop a specified master plan; specifying duties and procedures of the task force, etc.

Effective Date: July 1, 2019, Chapter No. 2019-57, Laws of Florida

Department of Financial Services

House Bill 1393: Allowing licensees who currently hold a limited license as an industrial fire or burglary agent to renew their license but prohibiting new licenses from being issued;  Authorizing DFS discretion to deny an application for an insurance agency license, suspend, revoke or refuse to continue the license of any insurance agency on the grounds that another jurisdiction has taken an adverse action against a professional license held by the agency or a person who manages or controls such agency and to suspend or revoke; and allowing formerly disqualified agents who have served half of the disqualifying period to apply for a probationary license. Requiring suspended bail bond agent to file a new application to be considered for reinstatement of their license. Reducing qualification criteria for non-resident public adjusters applicants.

Effective Date: July 1, 2019, Chapter No. 2019-140, Laws of Florida

Tackling Florida's Rampant AOB Abuse

House Bill 7065: Insurance Assignment Agreements; Providing requirements and limitations for property insurance assignment agreements; providing a burden of proof; providing that an assignment agreement does not affect managed repair arrangements under a property insurance policy; providing that an acceptance by an assignee of an assignment agreement is a waiver by the assignee and its subcontractors of certain claims against an insure;; specifying an insured's payment obligations under an assignment agreement; requiring notice of intent to initiate litigation, etc.

Effective Date: July 1, 2019, Chapter No. 2019-57, Laws of Florida

HB 337 was also signed by the Governor and it included Section 23, which made subsection (10) of HB 7065 effective as soon as the Governor signed HB 7065. Subsection (10) in HB 7065 provides new limits on attorney fees and costs. These new limits are now effective.

Ensuring Florida's Students Learn Vital Financial Literacy Skills

House Bill 7071: Financial literacy is vital to making informed financial decisions and building a foundation for life-long financial wellness. Specifying that school districts must offer at least a half-credit financial literacy course as an elective.

Effective Date: July 1, 2019, Chapter No. 2019-119, Laws of Florida

Note: The legislation noted is not exhaustive of all newly-created laws or pending legislation which may be of interest to Department licensees. Information about the laws passed or pending can be searched at the House or Senate websites. We may cover additional legislation in future issues.


Prepare Your Agency and Customers For Hurricane Season

Florida's hurricane season started June 1st. Most people are careful to make important plans to protect their personal safety, homes and belongings by developing a "Hurricane Plan". Take time to consider the plans you've made to protect your business and consumer records in the event a storm approaches Florida.

Agencies and agents may want to consider the following methods of preparation:

  • Protecting consumer records - many insurers have specific guidelines related to the protection of consumer records by agents and agencies. Many agencies are moving away from maintaining paper records in favor of the ease and protection of electronic data storage. However, if your computers are destroyed without a back-up, you'll lose the benefit electronic records provide. You may want to discuss off-site computer storage with your Internet Service Provider or an insurer, which may be able to suggest solutions.
  • Emergency plans for the agency and its members - if you have a lease, learn what restrictions, if any, apply to your business' premises in the event of a natural disaster and whether you'll have access to your records, furnishings and possessions. Decide how you can continue to operate if your business premises are uninhabitable and have a plan to notify your customers of the new location.
  • If your business premises are damaged during a storm and cannot be accessed by your customers, please provide your contact information to the Department's Division of Consumer Services. Consumers may call the Department if they can't reach their agent and this will allow us to provide your contact information to them.

Verify before you sellAgents should always verify the companies they sell for are authorized to do business in Florida. If you suspect an entity is not authorized to transact insurance in Florida, please notify our office. Call 877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236).

Read more


Title Insurance Agents/Agencies and Real Estate Open Houses

Our Department receives a high volume of questions from the title insurance industry. Unfortunately, these questions do not always use consistent terminology making it difficult to determine the true situation and resulting question. It is very important when we communicate with each other that we know what the other is talking about so we can assist the other. Sometimes taking time to describe the term or situation you have a question about will assist the Department with answering your question. This is particularly true when it comes to compliance questions. An example of the areas in which we often get ambiguous questions are real estate open houses. With this situation in mind, here is some guidance that we will try to keep as simple but still provide helpful guidance.

A title agent/agency may market its services to anyone, including real estate agents/brokers and lenders who will be a significant source of new business. The key is that the title agent/agency must market itself and not the broker, lender, or anyone else.

There are multiple types of open houses:

REALTOR:

  • Brokers Open/Brokers Open House: When a real estate broker shows homes they have listed to their realtors or other realtors. Realtor caravans would be an example. (non-public)
  • Open House: When a Realtor holds an open house for a home which they have listed to promote the home for sale to consumers. (public)

BUILDER:

  • Builders Model Homes: Open House/Parade of Homes Event: When a builder hosts an event in a model home to promote the home to Realtors and/or consumers.

A Brokers Open, Brokers Open House, and certain Builders events are times when a title agency should be extra cautious of violating the Florida Insurance Code and RESPA. No members of the general public, no sellers, and no buyers are in attendance. A byproduct of this meeting will be the discussions the brokers have with each other where they let each other know about the inventory each one has available for sale. The thinking is that one of the other brokers may have a buyer that will be more receptive to paying the full asking price.

An Open House to the public is different than those detailed above because this is an opportunity for the title agent/agency to take full advantage of their audience to explain what they do and why they are better at doing it than any other title agent/agency.

Regardless of the event type, the title agency may only advertise its own services and not perform any of the duties or functions of the broker selling the home. The title agency may have food and beverages, but that must be accompanied by materials showing what the title agency does and can do for the consumer. A title agency may NOT just drop off food or solely provide food/beverages for these events. A title agency MUST attend the event and promote its agency during the event. The title agency cannot describe the home, give tours to people visiting the home, distribute flyers about the home, "man the event" without a Realtor or builder sales associate present, promote any broker listings, etc., as these are duties and functions of the real estate broker, Realtor or builder sales associate.

Marketing these open houses and others' events by the title agent/agency are prohibited. Licensees and persons subject to the Florida Insurance Code should refamiliarize themselves with it for compliance. Specifically, Rule 69B-186.010, F.A.C., regarding guidance in this area should be reviewed prior to any title agent/agency considering promoting open houses on their Facebook or other social media or other types of solicitation at the title agency's own time, resources and expenses, no matter how quick and inexpensive.

Any licensee of the Department of Financial Services found to have conducted these acts is subject to discipline for violation of the Florida Insurance Code. Any other person will be referred to the appropriate state or federal agency/board, etc.

Violations by the title insurance industry can be reported to Title@MyFloridaCFO.com. Please email or forward as much information as you can. Please note that this guidance is not all-inclusive and any person subject to the Florida Insurance Code and/or RESPA should seek legal advice or contact their association prior to proceeding with any regulated activity.

[See Section 626.9541, F.S. and Rule 69B-186.010, F.A.C.]


Online Sunshine

The 2018 Florida Statutes are available online. The Florida Statutes can be viewed at Online Sunshine


This is Puzzling

Crossword

Across
2. A title agency may only advertise its _____ services
4. _____ Bill 7065 concerns Assignment of Benefits
6. Number of insurer eligible to write private flood insurance
8. A General Lines agent must have _____, in-person contact with a customer rep they supervise.

Down
1. Unlicensed Agency Personnel cannot _____ insurance products.
3. Hurricane Season starts ______ 1st.
4. Florida ______ Kids received funding to lower the cost of its Full Pay Plan.
5. Number of months since Hurricane Michael
7. The work of adjusting insurance claims engages the public ____.

The answer key is found on the Education Central page.

 

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