Less than an hour ago, the Florida House just passed House Bill 79 by a vote of 92-22. The Senate Bill has not been voted on yet and there are still some possible changes that may occur. The full House bill as passed today can be found here.
I have copied below some important sections of the bill. However, please go to the full link for the entire bill.
784 PROPERTY INSURANCE APPRAISAL UMPIRES
785 626.9961 Short title.—This part may be referred to as the
786 "Property Insurance Appraisal Umpire Law."
787 626.9962 Legislative findings.—The Legislature finds it
788 necessary to regulate persons that hold themselves out to the
789 public as qualified to provide services as property insurance
790 appraisal umpires in order to protect the public safety and
791 welfare and to avoid economic injury to the residents of this
792 state. This part applies only to property insurance appraisal
793 umpires as defined in this part.
794 626.9963 Part supplements licensing law.—This part is
795 supplementary to part I, the "Licensing Procedures Law."
796 626.9964 Definitions.—As used in this part, the term:
797 (1) "Appraisal" means, for purposes of licensure under
798 this part only, a process of alternative dispute resolution used
799 in a personal residential or commercial residential property
800 insurance claim.
801 (2) "Competent" means sufficiently qualified and capable
802 of performing an appraisal.
803 (3) "Department" means the Department of Financial
805 (4) "Property insurance appraisal umpire" or "umpire"
806 means a person selected by the appraisers representing the
807 insurer and the insured, or, if the appraisers cannot agree, by
808 the court, who is charged with resolving issues that the
809 appraisers are unable to agree upon during the course of an
811 (5) "Property insurance appraiser" or "appraiser" means
812 the person selected by an insurer or insured to perform an
814 626.9965 Qualification for license as a property insurance
815 appraisal umpire.—
816 (1) The department shall issue a license as an umpire to a
817 person who meets the requirements of subsection (2) and is one
818 of the following:
819 (a) A retired county, circuit, or appellate judge.
820 (b) Licensed as an engineer pursuant to chapter 471 or is
821 a retired professional engineer as defined in s. 471.005.
822 (c) Licensed as a general contractor, building contractor,
823 or residential contractor pursuant to part I of chapter 489.
824 (d) Licensed or registered as an architect to engage in
825 the practice of architecture pursuant to part I of chapter 481.
826 (e) A member of The Florida Bar.
827 (f) Licensed as an adjuster pursuant to part VI of chapter
828 626, which license includes the property and casualty lines of
829 insurance. An adjuster must have been licensed for at least 5
830 years as an adjuster before he or she may be licensed as an
832 (2) An applicant may be licensed to practice in this state
833 as an umpire if the applicant:
834 (a) Is a natural person at least 18 years of age;
835 (b) Is a United States citizen or legal alien who
836 possesses work authorization from the United States Bureau of
837 Citizenship and Immigration;
838 (c) Is of good moral character;
839 (d) Has paid the applicable fees specified in s. 624.501;
841 (e) Has, before the date of the application for licensure,
842 satisfactorily completed education courses approved by the
843 department covering:
844 1. At least 19 hours of insurance claims estimating; and
845 2. At least 5 hours of insurance law, ethics for insurance
846 professionals, disciplinary trends, and case studies.
848 A retired county, circuit, or appellate judge who is a member in
849 good standing of The Florida Bar is exempt from the continuing
850 education requirements of s. 626.2815 and the education courses
851 required by this subsection.
852 (3) The department may not reject an application solely
853 because the applicant is or is not a member of a given appraisal
855 626.9966 Grounds for refusal, suspension, or revocation of
856 an umpire license or appointment.—The department may deny an
857 application for license or appointment under this part; suspend,
858 revoke, or refuse to renew or continue a license or appointment
859 of an umpire; or suspend or revoke eligibility for licensure or
860 appointment as an umpire if the department finds that one or
861 more of the following applicable grounds exist:
862 (1) Violating a duty imposed upon him or her by law or by
863 the terms of the umpire agreement; aiding, assisting, or
864 conspiring with any other person engaged in any such misconduct
865 and in furtherance thereof; or forming the intent, design, or
866 scheme to engage in such misconduct and committing an overt act
867 in furtherance of such intent, design, or scheme. An umpire
868 commits a violation of this part regardless of whether the
869 victim or intended victim of the misconduct has sustained any
870 damage or loss; the damage or loss has been settled and paid
871 after the discovery of misconduct; or the victim or intended
872 victim is an insurer or customer or a person in a confidential
873 relationship with the umpire or is an identified member of the
874 general public.
875 (2) Having a registration, license, or certification to
876 practice or conduct any regulated profession, business, or
877 vocation revoked, suspended, or encumbered; or having an
878 application for such registration, licensure, or certification
879 to practice or conduct any regulated profession, business, or
880 vocation denied, by this or any other state, any nation, or any
881 possession or district of the United States.
882 (3) Making or filing a report or record, written or oral,
883 which the umpire knows to be false; willfully failing to file a
884 report or record required by state or federal law; willfully
885 impeding or obstructing such filing; or inducing another person
886 to impede or obstruct such filing.
887 (4) Agreeing to serve as an umpire if service is
888 contingent upon the umpire reporting a predetermined amount,
889 analysis, or opinion.
890 (5) Agreeing to serve as an umpire, if the fee to be paid
891 for his or her services is contingent upon the opinion,
892 conclusion, or valuation he or she reaches.
893 (6) Failure of an umpire, without good cause, to
894 communicate within 10 business days after a request for
895 communication from an appraiser.
896 (7) Violation of any ethical standard for umpires
897 specified in s. 626.9967.
898 626.9967 Ethical standards for property insurance
899 appraisal umpires.—
900 (1) FEES AND EXPENSES.—
901 (a) The fees charged by an umpire must be reasonable and
902 consistent with the nature of the case.
903 (b) In determining fees, an umpire:
904 1. Must charge on an hourly basis and may bill only for
905 actual time spent on or allocated for the appraisal.
906 2. May not charge, agree to, or accept as compensation or
907 reimbursement any payment, commission, or fee that is based on a
908 percentage of the value of the claim or that is contingent upon
909 a specified outcome.
910 3. May charge for costs actually incurred, and no other
911 costs. An umpire may not charge for the cost of an expert unless
912 the umpire has disclosed the amount of the expert’s fee to the
913 appraiser for the insurer and the appraiser for the insured
914 before incurring the cost for the expert’s services.
915 4. May not charge a fee of more than $500 if the amount
916 reported by the appraiser for the insurer or by the appraiser
917 for the insured does not exceed $2,500.
918 (c) An appraiser may assign the duty of paying the
919 umpire’s fee to, and the umpire is entitled to receive payment
920 directly from, the insurer and the insured only if the insurer
921 and the insured acknowledge and accept that duty and agree in
922 writing to be responsible for payment.
923 (2) MAINTENANCE OF RECORDS.—An umpire shall maintain
924 records necessary to support charges for services and expenses,
925 and, upon request, shall provide an accounting of all applicable
926 charges to the insurer and insured. An umpire shall retain
927 original or true copies of any contracts engaging his or her
928 services, appraisal reports, and supporting data assembled and
929 formulated by the umpire in preparing appraisal reports for at
930 least 5 years. The umpire shall make the records available to
931 the department for inspection and copying within 7 business days
932 after a request. If an appraisal has been the subject of, or has
933 been admitted as evidence in, a lawsuit, reports and records
934 related to the appraisal must be retained for at least 2 years
935 after the date that the trial ends.
936 (3) ADVERTISING.—An umpire may not engage in marketing
937 practices that contain false or misleading information. An
938 umpire shall ensure that any advertisement of his or her
939 qualifications, services to be rendered, or the appraisal
940 process are accurate and honest. An umpire may not make claims
941 of achieving specific outcomes or promises implying favoritism
942 for the purpose of obtaining business.
943 (4) INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY.—
944 (a)1. An umpire may not accept an appraisal unless he or
945 she can serve competently, promptly commence the appraisal and,
946 thereafter, devote the time and attention to its completion in
947 the manner expected by all persons involved in the appraisal.
948 2. An umpire shall conduct the appraisal process in a
949 manner that advances the fair and efficient resolution of issues
950 that arise.
951 3. An umpire shall deliberate and decide all issues within
952 the scope of the appraisal, but may not render a decision on any
953 other issues. An umpire shall decide all matters justly,
954 exercising independent judgment. An umpire may not delegate his
955 or her duties to any other person. An umpire who considers the
956 opinion of an expert does not violate this paragraph.
957 (b) An umpire may not engage in any business, provide any
958 service, or perform any act that would compromise his or her
959 integrity or impartiality.
960 (5) SKILL AND EXPERIENCE.—An umpire shall decline or
961 withdraw from an appraisal or request appropriate assistance
962 when the facts and circumstances of the appraisal prove to be
963 beyond his or her skill or experience.
964 (6) GIFTS AND SOLICITATION.—An umpire or any individual or
965 entity acting on behalf of an umpire may not solicit, accept,
966 give, or offer to give, directly or indirectly, any gift, favor,
967 loan, or other item of value in excess of $25 to any individual
968 who participates in the appraisal, for the purpose of
969 solicitation or otherwise attempting to procure future work from
970 any person who participates in the appraisal, or as an
971 inducement to entering into an appraisal with an umpire. This
972 subsection does not prevent an umpire from accepting other
973 appraisals where the appraisers agree upon the umpire or the
974 court appoints the umpire.
975 (7) EX PARTE COMMUNICATION.—In any property insurance
976 appraisal, ex parte communication between an umpire and an
977 appraiser is prohibited. However, an appraiser may communicate
978 with another appraiser if an umpire is not present or does not
979 receive the ex parte communication.
980 626.9968 Conflicts of interest.—An insurer or a
981 policyholder may challenge an umpire’s impartiality and
982 disqualify the proposed umpire only if:
983 (1) A familial relationship within the third degree exists
984 between the umpire and a party or a representative of a party;
985 (2) The umpire has previously represented a party in a
986 professional capacity in the same claim or matter involving the
987 same property;
988 (3) The umpire has represented another person in a
989 professional capacity in the same or a substantially related
990 matter that includes the claim, the same property or an adjacent
991 property, and the other person’s interests are materially
992 adverse to the interests of a party;
993 (4) The umpire has worked as an employer or employee of a
994 party within the preceding 5 years; or
995 (5) The umpire has violated s. 626.9966.
996 Section 30. Section 627.70151, Florida Statutes, is
998 Section 31. For the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the sums of
999 $24,000 in recurring funds from the Insurance Regulatory Trust
1000 Fund and $73,107 in recurring funds and $39,230 in nonrecurring
1001 funds from the Administrative Trust Fund are appropriated to the
1002 Department of Financial Services, and one full-time equivalent
1003 position with associated salary rate of 47,291 is authorized,
1004 for the purpose of implementing this act.
1005 Section 32. This act applies to all appraisals requested
1006 on or after October 1, 2016.
1007 Section 33. This act shall take effect October 1, 2016.