Tallahassee is buzzing – if you listen closely, you can hear it. As October winds to a close, the traffic on Interstate 10 is picking up, as is the mid-week crowd at Clyde’s & Costello’s. There’s only one thing that could mean – the 2012 legislative session is right around the corner.
With this in mind, it’s time we take a quick look at the early drafts of the Insurance-related bills winding their way through the committee process, which has already begun in earnest:
First, Senate Bill 378/House Bill 243, sponsored by Senator Richter and Representatives Metz & Weinstein, respectively. These Bills aim to bring the state of Florida’s evidentiary standard into line with Federal standard. Under the new Daubert standard, judges will be given more leeway as “gatekeepers” of science. Obviously there are problems with this standard, as precious few members of the judiciary are trained scientific experts. Many states have yet to confirm to the federal Daubert standard because, as then Former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court William H. Rehnquist famously said, judges are not, and should not, be amateur scientists.
Next, Senate Bill 578/House Bill 245, which are sponsored by Senator Richter and Representative Boyd, respectively. The main focus of these bills is to depopulate Citizen’s Property Insurance Corporation, returning it to its initially intended status as the state’s insurer of last resort. As currently written, the bill would allow surplus lines insurance companies to compete with private insurers to attract customers from Citizens – a move that would effectively force some Floridians to purchase property insurance from a company that’s not regulated by the state of Florida with regard to rates and forms. This bill will increase rates and decrease consumer protections.
Finally, and perhaps most troublingly, is HB 427 – the anticipated “Bad Faith Bill” which is sponsored by Representative Passidomo. Currently, there is no companion bill in the Senate. If passed, this bill would make it much more difficult for policyholders to file bad faith lawsuits against their insurers. The law would effectively chip away at the state’s bad faith statutes – statutes that exist to ensure your insurance company is holding up its end of bargain and acting in good faith. Erosion in bad faith laws lets insurance companies evade their contractual obligations and harm policyholders without recourse.
With the session approaching, we must remain vigilant in our defense of Florida’s 8 million policyholders – The insurance industry is certainly looking after their own interests. Keep looking at policyholdersofflorida.com and at this blog for updates.