TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Senator Travis Hutson (R-Elkton) announced new legislation last week titled “Insurer Accountability” that would increase fines for insurance companies that mislead consumers. Insurers would also have to report more information to the state and follow new “best practices” for handling property insurance claims under the proposed law.
“If there’s bad actors out there, we’re going to hold them accountable,” said Hutson when he introduced the bill in the Senate.
A “HEALTHY BALANCE”
According to Hutson, a “healthy balance” of oversight is required to help stabilize the property insurance market. For example, property insurance companies would be prohibited from dropping policyholders after a claim until all repairs to their home have been completed.
But Carolyn Johnson, a senior director for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, told the Tampa Bay Times they “want to ensure that we’re truly going after the bad actors and not the entire insurance industry as a whole.”
MORE TOOLS IN THE TOOLBOX
Hutson said the new Office of Insurance Regulation commissioner, Mike Yaworsky, who replaced David Altmaier, is interested in ensuring property insurers are held accountable.
“We’ve got a new sheriff in town who really wants to go after these guys,” Hutson said. “Some of this language came directly from him, where he said, ‘I need more tools in the toolbox.’”
If passed, SB 7052 would:
- Require insurers to report all policies related to claims handling to the state.
- An increase in fines against insurers to a maximum of $20,000 to $100,000 for “nonwillful” violations and $200,000 to $1 million for “willful” violations.
- State regulators would gain more authority to examine insurers conduct
- Insurers would no longer be allowed to pay bonuses to company officers or directors if an insurer becomes impaired or goes insolvent.
The legislation also addresses allegations in a Washington Post article by private adjusters who said that insurers manipulated their reports to pay homeowners less for their claims.