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‘Omnibus Prime’ insurance bill gets Governor’s signature

It increases the reimbursement rate insurers can receive from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law Tuesday the so-called “Omnibus Prime” insurance bill meant to reform and modernize certain parts of the state’s insurance regulations.

The bill (HB 301) is a catch-all bill often referred to as a “train” because it links so many changes into one bill.

Among the biggest changes to Florida law under the bill, it increases the reimbursement rate insurers can receive from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund from 5 percent to 10 percent for losses on contracts effective after June 1, 2019.

Supporters, including the Senate bill sponsor Jeff Brandes, said that change is necessary as Florida insurers have for years been bleeding money in claims payouts as a result of numerous hurricanes.

“The unfortunate reality is over the last many years, the loss adjustment expenses for some of these storms have been as high as 30 to 40 percent on some of these claims,” Brandes previously told Florida Politics.

The measure also increases opportunities to recoup legal defense costs by allowing insurers to split fees when more than one liability insurer has a duty to defend an insured person or entity. It ensures that all applicable insurers are contributing to attorney’s fees or a claim’s defense.

Another change deals with surplus lines systems. Surplus line policies are options for homeowners who are declined coverage from insurers authorized with the state.

The bill allows homeowner’s property insurance for a residential dwelling with a replacement cost of $700,000 or more to be exported to a surplus lines insurer following a single coverage rejection. Under previous law, that homeowner would have to be rejected three times in order to seek a surplus policy.

Brandes said that change has the added benefit of providing more competition in the marketplace.

Among other changes, the bill also removes the $35 cap currently in place on the per-policy fee insurance agents may charge for each policy they export. The bill claims it allows retail agents to receive “a reasonable per-policy fee.” It also requires agents to provide fee notices to consumers.

The bill also expands multiple policy discount options in certain circumstances for consumers.

“Florida’s insurance market is one of the most dynamic in the country.  With the passage of HB301 we continue to work to provide more consumer choice, allow additional flexibility to our existing providers, and address issues across the industry that benefit homeowners and car insurance policyholders,” Brandes said.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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