By Jeff Grady
FAIA President & CEO
Earlier on Thursday afternoon, the Senate passed SB 1770 by a 32-1 margin, sending the “major” property reform measure of the 2013 Florida Legislature to the Governor’s desk. It is presumed Governor Scott will sign the bill.
While the bill is a much lighter version than what appeared in the Senate only two weeks ago, it is “major” nonetheless. There are several provisions that will have little to no bearing on agents. On the other hand, if you are a Citizens agent, particularly for personal lines, SB 1770 promises to create significant changes to your operation. A few examples include:
- All personal lines multi-peril and wind-only risks will be required to be submitted through the Citizens Clearinghouse. Although the bill does not stipulate an effective date, it is widely believed that Citizens will try to implement the Clearinghouse by 1//1/2014 (RFI’s are already in circulation).
- The 115% eligibility rule for Citizens new business will be enforced rigorously by the Clearinghouse. All personal lines renewals will also be required to be submitted through the Clearinghouse, however, the risk can only be ruled ineligible if the private carrier’s quote is equal to or lower than that of Citizens (comparable coverage is still required).
- A new 48 hour holding period is created by the Clearinghouse. In other words, the applicant must be held in the Clearinghouse for 48 hours prior to being offered coverage by Citizens to provide private insurers adequate time to review the risk.
- Agents are provided unequivocal ownership of expirations both with Citizens and any carrier which participates in the Clearinghouse.
- Agent commissions paid by carriers participating in the Clearinghouse must be equal to that paid by Citizens or the usual and customary commission paid by the insurer for that line of business, whichever is greater.
- A new member is added to Citizens Board of Governors, making their revised total, nine. The new addition is appointed by the Governor (giving him a majority over other appointing officers) and “serves solely to advocate on behalf of the consumer.”
- A new Inspector General’s office will reside within Citizens. The post will be appointed by the Financial Services Commission, without regard to political affiliation, and report to the chair of the Citizens board of governors. The significance of this development for agents is the new office will have the same wide-sweeping authority it holds within other divisions of state government. For Citizens, this means the Inspector General will likely review agent compliance with the company’s rules and procedures.
The bill is quite long and includes much more that agents generally need to know. Your talented FAIA lobbying team has been working tirelessly and their soon-to-be published 2013 Legislative Summary will go into great detail on SB 1770 and other important measures that impact independent agents. Of course the session isn’t over quite yet, but thankfully, it’s wrapping up. Stay tuned!