I hope each and every one of you are in the midst of a wonderful holiday season! I am writing this blog from a food court in Toronto, Canada. While I am on a vacation to see family, the weather is making me rethink my life choices. It is currently 19 degrees. This Floridian is wearing more layers than I even knew you could pack on! I will be back in Florida in a few days—just in time to ring in the New Year. Soon thereafter, I will be heading back to Tallahassee for the start of the 2018 Legislative Session. Session officially begins on January 9th and ends on March 9th (unless a special session is called).

Overall, the 2017 Session was a good one for policyholders. HB911 was signed into law (see Insurance Consultants and People Not Licensed as Public Adjusters Cannot Work on Property Insurance Claims) and will significantly protect insurance consumers. Unfortunately, the 2017 legislature was unable to address the AOB situation in Florida.

During the 2018 Session, I hope we can finally tackle the AOB situation. My colleague, Rep. Trumbull, has filed a bill in the Florida House that has already seen movement through the committee process. Although I like much of the bill, I disagree with the provisions that change how attorney fees are awarded. Current law (particularly the offer of judgment statute) adequately addresses the circumstances this proposed attorney fee change seeks to address. Nevertheless, the House is certainly getting close to passing a product that will have a lot of buy in from the various stakeholders … stay tuned!

I filed HB 905 in reaction to a situation brought to my attention by a couple in Hernando County. Currently, a landlord need not inform a potential tenant that the home being rented has experienced sinkhole activity. I believe that a potential tenant should have that information when deciding whether to rent a home or not. HB 905 would require such a disclosure on the part of the landlord.

These are the two main bills affecting property insurance consumers prefiled in the Florida House of Representatives. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions (sshaw@MerlinLawGroup.com) and have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Just for kicks: Here is me in single digit weather…yikes!

Sean Shaw