TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — As insurance rates continue to go up across the state, lawmakers at the Florida Capitol have decided to take action.
In the first half of the session, lawmakers passed a bill that would protect insurers by cutting down on frivolous lawsuits. Now they’ve advanced HB 7065, the “Insurer Accountability” bill, which aims to crack down on insurers and protect consumers. The bill was passed through a committee Friday.
“This is the other end of the equation. We want to make sure that the insurance companies are accountable—that they are doing the right thing by their insureds and that they are adequately and timely investigating complaints,” State Rep. Wyman Duggan, R-Jacksonville, the House bill’s sponsor said.
This was the “insurer accountability” bill’s first and last House committee. The bill is intended to crack down on insurance companies acting in bad faith by handing over more power to state regulators.
“It took the state several years to get to the bottom of this hole. We now, with the legislative efforts over the last couple sessions, we have a ladder to get out of the hole and we’re climbing out,” Duggan added.
The bill has more than 20 provisions that give state officials at the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) more tools to go after bad actors. It also includes new consumer protections so insurers can’t suddenly cancel policies.
The bill would also hand over more oversight to the Department of Financial Services, allowing DFS to deny licenses to anyone who violates the state’s insurance codes.
“This is the other end of the equation – we want to make sure that the insurance companies are accountable – that they are doing the right thing by their insureds and that they are adequately and timely investigating complaints,” said Duggan.
“The pain of this property insurance crisis is bipartisan, so the solution should be as well,” State Rep. Fentrice Driskell (D-Hillsborough County) said after voting up on the bill.
Despite democrats largely being on board, they did raise some concerns.
“There’s still nothing in there, unfortunately, that will provide direct and immediate rate relief for Floridians, but it is a step in the right direction,” Driskell added.
But the bill’s sponsor asserts that provisions like handing more oversight to the Office of Insurance Regulation will provide results in the coming months.
“All of that taken together absolutely I believe, will affect rates in a positive manner. And you know, hopefully that starts to happen within six to nine months, but I’m confident with it within 18 months,” Duggan added.
The bill will have two more weeks to make it to the governor’s desk before the end of session.
With legislative leadership and the governor on board, this will likely get a floor vote before the end of session.