In The Know
2019 Legislative Update
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
Effective Date: October 1, 2019, Chapter No. 2019-9, Laws of Florida
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 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
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.
Blockchain Technology Task Force
Effective Date: July 1, 2019, Chapter No. 2019-57, Laws of Florida
Department of Financial Services
Effective Date: July 1, 2019, Chapter No. 2019-140, Laws of Florida
Tackling Florida's Rampant AOB Abuse
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
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:
Agents 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).
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 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.]
The 2018 Florida Statutes are available online. The Florida Statutes can be viewed at Online Sunshine
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