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inbox They are also proposing delaying property tax rates for areas hit by Hurricane Ian and appropriating about $750 million for various restoration efforts.
But the focus will be on insurance next week, an issue that lawmakers have failed to tackle despite passing a handful of different bills in recent years.
Here are some of the details on what lawmakers are proposing:
The legislation would dramatically change the time frames to file a claim and for insurers to respond to that claim:
• Homeowners would have one year, instead of two, to file a claim. They would have 18 months, instead of three years, to file a supplemental claim.
• Insurers would have 60 days, instead of 90, to pay or deny a claim. State regulators could extend it another 30 days in a state of emergency, such as a hurricane.
• Insurers would have 30 days, instead of 45 days, to conduct a physical inspection, even after a hurricane.
• Insurers would have seven days, instead of 14 days, to review and acknowledge a claim communication or to begin an investigation.
Limitations on lawsuits
Insurance companies have complained for years about the rate of litigation in Florida, and lawmakers are poised to dramatically reduce the incentive to sue:
• The legislation would eliminate the requirements that property insurers pay the attorney fees of policyholders who successfully file lawsuits over claims.
• It would end the practice of “assignment of benefits,” in which policyholders sign over their benefits to contractors, who seek payment from insurers.
• It allows insurers to offer policies that require the policyholder to engage in mandatory binding arbitration, which forces them into a dispute resolution process and forbids the policyholder from suing (and is often weighted in favor of the company). The insurer still would have to offer a policy without binding arbitration, and the policyholder who cedes their rights would have to receive an “appropriate premium discount.”
Citizens’ flood insurance requirements
For the first time, Citizens would require policyholders to have flood insurance that is at least equivalent to the coverage available from the National Flood Insurance Program.
Here are the deadlines lawmakers are proposing:
• For policyholders whose property is located within special hazard flood zones defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency: April 1, 2023, for new Citizens policies and July 1, 2023, for renewing policies.
• For policies insuring property to a limit of $600,000 or more: March 1, 2024.
• For policies insuring properties to a limit of between $500,000 and $600,000: March 1, 2025.
• For policies insuring properties to a limit of between $400,000 and $500,000: March 1, 2026.
• For all other policyholders: March 1, 2027.