Florida bill could help homeowners with rising insurance costs

'Florida is in a property insurance crisis,' State Sen. Jeff Brandes says
Posted at 9:00 AM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 18:11:20-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Florida lawmakers passed a bill that could help stop the increases that homeowners have seen in insurance premiums these past few years.

Senate Bill 76 is not a full solution, according to sponsor state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg.

The bill addresses potential hikes to Citizens Insurance, rules for roofing contractors and how long the insured has to file a claim.

Many say the increases in premiums are related to the number of claims and lawsuits related to claims from recent storms.

The bill would make it illegal for roof contractors from making advertisements that solicit an insurance claim or help to file a claim.

It would also prohibit a contractor from providing repairs for an insured with a contract for repairs that does not include a detailed cost estimate of the labor and materials required to complete the repairs. A roofer could be fined $10,000 for each violation.

As for lawsuits, the bill would change the one-way attorney fee statute.

The changes would make the recovery of attorney fees and costs contingent on obtaining a judgment for indemnity that exceeds the pre-suit offer made by the insurance company.

Tool allows homeowners to compare home insurance prices

Plaintiffs would also have to file a pre-suit demand at least 10 days before filing a lawsuit that includes an estimate of how much money the plaintiff is seeking as well as the attorney fees.

Pre-suit notices cannot be filed before the insurance company makes a determination of coverage. The bill would also allow an insurer to require mediation or another form of alternative dispute resolution after receiving notice.

The bill also changes how long people have to file a claim.

Currently, those insured have three years to file from the date of loss, but the bill changes that to two years, except on supplemental claims which will have an additional year.

Citizens Insurance was also addressed in the bill. If it becomes law, it increases the rate glide path for citizens.

Prior to 2021, Citizens could not increase rates beyond 10%. The new legislation allows rate increases of 11% in 2022, 12% in 2023, 13% in 2024, 14% in 2025 and 15% in 2026 and subsequent years.

Brandes provided this statement to WPTV regarding the bill:

"Florida is in a property insurance crisis. This legislation delayed Armageddon, but more still needs to be done, specifically relating to roofs and attorney’s fees. We need to get Florida on [a] sustainable path as our economy is at risk of collapse."

Gov. Ron DeSantis has yet to receive or sign the bill. If he does sign it, the bill will become law on July 1.

Visit the links below to see how Florida lawmakers voted on the bill: