As I noted in a blog post last week, House Bill 853, legislation intended to exclude surplus lines insurance carriers from an entire Chapter of the Insurance Code, was poised to pass both chambers of the legislature — with only the hope that time would run out before they could agree on the wording.

Unfortunately, the legislation passed without further changes to the wording and now will be sent to Governor Crist, who will sign or veto the bill.

The bill is sweeping in its scope, excluding surplus lines carriers from all of Chapter 627 of the Insurance Code. Items in Chapter 627 which will not apply to surplus lines carriers include:

  • The Valued Policy Law
  • Required availability of Replacement Cost and Law and Ordinance Coverage
  • Florida’s prompt payment statute — 627.70131(5)(a)
  • Sinkhole coverage

An attorney in our office, Amy Boggs, noticed a sentence in the bill which is of immediate concern to anybody who has a claim pending with a surplus lines carrier:

“The amendments to s. 626.913, Florida Statutes, in this act….operate retroactively…except with respect to lawsuits that are filed on or before May 15, 2009.”

If you have a Florida claim pending that involves any coverage issues contained in Chapter 627, you should consult legal counsel to discuss whether filing suit no later than May 15th is appropriate in your case.