Insurance trade groups praised Florida legislators for passing a sweeping reform bill aimed at stabilizing the state's property insurance market.
The bill, which now awaits Gov. Rick Scott's signature, will cap public adjuster fees, put statutes-of-limitations on sinkhole and hurricane claims, and place limits on what constitutes a loss from sinkholes. The law also will allow property insurance companies to hold back portions of structural damage claims until contractors are hired to do the work. Insurers say this will prevent people from spending the insurance money for structural damage on other things.
"Consumers and insurers have been anxiously awaiting comprehensive property insurance reform in Florida," Ray Farmer, southeast region vice president of the American Insurance Association, said in a statement. "Common sense measures ending abuses by some insureds and their public adjusters in the filing of fraudulent sinkhole and hurricane claims will reduce insurance costs."
Under the bill, sinkhole claims apply only to main buildings, and they must be made within two years. Hurricane claims must be made within three years and home insurance claims payments for structural damage must be used to repair homes.
"These time frames provide for more than enough time to assess damage and file claims," Farmer said. "The deadlines will prevent unscrupulous public adjusters from filing questionable claims several years after the alleged date of loss."
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation also praised the bill.
"This bill will pay long-term dividends for Florida by contributing to the stabilization of the property insurance marketplace and in attracting new capital investment to our state," the office said in a press statement.