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How the 2024 Florida Laws Affect Insurance Rates andContracts


 

While Florida's insurance market continues to grapple with challenges, recent legislative actions have notably improved its trajectory over the past year and a half. The measures enacted by Florida lawmakers have notably bolstered the insurance industry compared to the preceding decade. Yet, the tangible benefits of the state's significant tort and insurance market reforms, implemented in 2022 and 2023, are only beginning to materialize for consumers.

 

Following the turmoil caused by Hurricane Ian in 2022, Florida faced a critical situation, prompting legislators to take decisive actions to restore stability to the industry. These included ceasing statutory attorney fees, incentivizing plaintiff lawsuits, and establishing additional reinsurance capacity for Florida's insurers.

 

The Impact of New Insurance Laws

Establishing Fair Legal Standards  

Under the new law, there are also substantive changes to the standard for evaluating good faith actions of first and third-party insurers. The new law first codifies Florida case law by explicitly stating that mere negligence alone on behalf of the insurer is insufficient to constitute bad faith.

 

Insurance companies face familiar tactics from claimants' counsel aiming to extend coverage beyond what was initially agreed upon. These tactics include setting unreasonable deadlines, exploiting technicalities, providing insufficient evidence, and creating obstacles to settlement. Allowing insurers to consider the actions of claimants, insured parties, or public adjusters in settlement failures should help prevent manufactured bad faith claims.

 

Coverage for Attorneys' Fees  

The new legislation includes repealing Sections 627.428 (for admitted carriers) and 626.9373 (for surplus lines), which previously allowed prevailing insured parties to recover attorneys' fees in coverage litigation against carriers. This move aligns with the state's 2022 decision to eliminate fee recovery rights in residential or commercial property insurance suits, reflecting a broader trend toward significantly limiting fee recovery across all lines of business.

 

Preventing Third-Party Bad Faith  

The bill introduces significant amendments to Florida's bad-faith statute, Section 624.155. Notably, under the new law, an action for common law or statutory third-party bad faith cannot be pursued if the insurer offers either the policy limits or the amount demanded by the claimant within 90 days of "receiving actual notice of a claim supported by sufficient evidence." If the insurer doesn't make this offer within the specified timeframe, the statute of limitations on the bad faith claim is extended by 90 days. Additionally, the 90-day period cannot be used as evidence in any subsequent bad-faith action.

 

This provision grants insurers a reasonable window to investigate claims and address coverage concerns, safeguarding their insured clients from excessive liability and themselves from potential bad faith litigation.

 

Timeframe for Statutory Changes  

The updated fee statute regarding specific declaratory judgment actions applies to all insurance issued under the Florida Insurance Code, potentially covering both admitted and surplus lines insurers. The adjustments to proposals for settlement and fee multipliers extend to all lawsuits in Florida.

 

These changes were made to improve the Florida insurance industry. You don't have to feel overwhelmed by the new Florida laws or figure out how they affect insurance rates and contracts. Contact your insurance professional with all your questions.

 

Contact M&T Adjusters       

M&T Adjusters is a Public Insurance Claims Adjusters Firm servicing all of Florida. As licensed experts, we represent home and business owners, not insurance companies. We guarantee you will get what you deserve. Don't let your insurance company take you for granted; we fight for you! We pride ourselves on being a family-owned company with years of experience in the Public Adjusters industry; we work with ethics and morals, always putting our clients first. We do not have hidden fees, and we do not touch your money because, at M&T, we treat our customers like family.

             

If you have property damage from a recent storm, water, fire, flood, or lightning, please contact us at 786-617-9404 (English) or 786-617-8921 (Spanish) for a free inspection today!

 

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