Florida Senate Bill 2A (SB-2A) makes significant changes to the state’s property insurance laws that will affect the claims process, regulation of insurance companies, and more. Read on to learn more about the impact of Florida SB-2A and how an Orlando insurance lawyer can seek compensation for your covered property damages.
What Is the Purpose of Florida SB-2A?
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB-2A in December 2022, enacting sweeping changes to the state’s property insurance laws. According to the Office of Governor DeSantis, the bill will help stabilize Florida’s property insurance market, increase consumer protections, and promote competition.
In addition, the governor hopes these reforms will help homeowners cut through bureaucracy and receive funds faster to repair damages caused by recent storms, such as Hurricanes Ian and Nicole.
To consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer today, call 855-780-9986
What Are Some of the Key Changes Made By SB-2A?
Senate Bill 2A contains many provisions affecting consumers and the property insurance industry. According to Florida’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), some key impacts of SB-2A include:
Changes to Filing Deadlines
SB-2A reduces the time a policyholder must report a new or reopened claim to one year (previously, the deadline was two years). In addition, policyholders now have 18 months (down from three years) to report a supplemental claim.
Introduction of Prompt Pay Laws
To resolve claims and remit payments faster, SB-2A shortens many of the deadlines that insurance companies must follow, including:
- Reducing the window to pay or deny a claim from 90 days to 60 days
- Reducing an insurer’s time to review and acknowledge a claim from 14 days to seven days
- Reducing the time an insurance company must begin an investigation from 14 days to seven days
- Mandating the insurance company send any adjuster’s report containing estimates for damages to the policyholder within seven days of the report’s creation
Establishment of Additional Insurance Regulations
SB-2A will strengthen the regulation of the property insurance industry in the following ways:
- Increase the ability of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) to conduct market exams of property insurance companies after a hurricane
- Provide funding to recruit and retain OIR staff and fill empty positions
- Allow the OIR to discipline insurance companies that abuse the appraisal process
- Allow the OIR to suspend an insurance company’s use of appraisal for up to two years and identify abusive companies on the OIR’s website
Removal of One-Way Attorney’s Fees
SB-2A prohibits the court from awarding attorney’s fees to either party in a property insurance claims lawsuit to reduce frivolous insurance litigation. Under the bill, each party must pay their legal fees.
Prohibition of the Assignment of Benefits
SB-2A outlaws the Assignment of Benefits. According to the bill, you can no longer sign benefits over to a third party as of Jan. 1, 2023.
Increased Standards for Suing for Bad Faith Insurance Practices
If an insurance company engages in bad faith practices or refuses to honor your insurance agreement’s terms, you can take action to recover the compensation. However, SB-2A raises the legal bar required to sue. Under the bill, you can sue for bad faith only once a court finds the insurance company guilty of a breach of contract.
Allowance of Mandatory Arbitration
Arbitration is a legal proceeding during which a judge listens to both parties’ arguments and decides. SB-2A states that insurance companies can issue a mandatory arbitration endorsement with a policyholder’s consent.
Policyholders who choose this endorsement will receive a premium discount. However, if you select mandatory arbitration, the arbitration decision is binding, and you cannot sue if you disagree with the outcome.
Establishment of the Florida Optional Reinsurance Assistance (FORA) Program
Reinsurance is insurance coverage purchased by insurance companies. SB-2A offers insurance companies reinsurance at reasonable or near-market rates. The hope is that affordable reinsurance will prevent insurers from passing increased costs to customers through rate hikes.
What Property Damages Can You Recover?
Each insurance policy is different, so coverage will vary based on the terms of your homeowner’s agreement. However, generally, most property insurance policies provide payment for the following:
- Structural damages. Most property insurance policies pay for damages to your home or dwelling caused by fire, hurricanes, hail, lightning, and storms. Coverage usually extends to other buildings on your property, such as garages and sheds. Standard policies typically do not include coverage against flooding, earthquakes, and routine wear and tear. Structural damage includes payment for doors, windows, decking, walls, and other physical components.
- Personal belongings. If a covered incident damages items inside your home, you can seek the cost of repairing or replacing your property, including clothing, furniture, and decor. Additionally, you might be able to recover compensation for damaged trees, plants, shrubs, and landscaping.
- Additional living expenses (ALEs). If you must vacate your home, ALEs pay for hotels, meals, and other daily expenses until you can return.
- Liability. If you or your family member is at fault for an injury another person suffers on your property, liability coverage pays for the related damages.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Handle Your Property Damage Claim?
You do not have to hire a lawyer to resolve your property damage claim. However, an attorney with our firm can help you understand the effects of Florida SB-2A and assist you in navigating Florida’s complex property insurance system. Our team can also take the stress and burden of your claim off your shoulders and advocate for the most advantageous settlement possible.
Whatever you do, do not wait too long to get started. As mentioned earlier, SB-2A reduces your time to file a property insurance claim. We can tell you more about how the new deadlines will affect you and help you take action before time runs out.
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Call Bogin, Munns & Munns for Help Today
Contact Bogin, Munns & Munns today for help with a property damage claim. Our firm has more than 40 years of case experience we can put behind getting the settlement you need and deserve. We will help you understand how Florida SB-2A affects you and protect your rights throughout the claims process.