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CFO Jeff Atwater Applauds Florida House and Senate for Passing Legislation Creating a Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights that Provides Greater Consumer Protections

4/30/2014

Contact: Chris Cate
(850) 413- 2842
 
TALLAHASSEE – Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today applauded the Florida House and Senate for passing legislation that creates a Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights. CFO Atwater made advocating for the bill a priority because it provides important consumer protections and greater transparency to the insurance claim-filing process. The bill also addresses additional aspects of the homeowner claims process such as eliminating unscrupulous post-claim underwriting practices that deny claims for unsuspecting consumers. The bill will now be sent to Governor Rick Scott to be signed into law.
 
“The Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights is a much-needed resource for homeowners that will notify them of their rights and responsibilities when filing an insurance claim and give them the confidence that they will be treated fairly during a stressful situation,” said CFO Atwater. “I appreciate our House and Senate sponsors, Representatives Hood and Moraitis and Senator Bean, and House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz for leading the passage of this legislation and enhancing consumer protections for Floridians.”
 
The Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights will be required to be provided to any policyholder who files a claim and will reference current Florida law regarding claims handling in order to provide the policyholder with information of their rights in the claims process. The bill of rights will also inform policyholders of what they should expect and provide advice on the next steps they should take in the process.
 
Senate Bill 708, which passed unanimously in both chambers of the legislature, also eliminates post-claim underwriting. Insurers will be required to complete the underwriting process in 90 days and will be prohibited from denying a claim and/or canceling a policy based on the insured’s credit information after their policy has been in force for 90 days or longer. The bill also creates safeguards for Florida homeowners by helping ensure appraisal umpire impartiality and providing the Department of Financial Services the ability to remove and discipline mediators who engage in inappropriate behavior.
 
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 Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government; reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses and providing transparency and accountability in state spending.