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Florida Senate - 2008 SB 2862

By Senator Atwater

25-03065-08 20082862__

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A bill to be entitled

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An act relating to insurance; amending s. 501.204, F.S.;

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specifying that acts or practices that violate s.

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626.9541(1), F.S., relating to unfair insurance trade

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practices, are unlawful under the Florida Deceptive and

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Unfair Trade Practice Act; amending s. 501.212, F.S.;

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deleting an exemption from the scope of the act which is

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provided to persons or activities regulated by the Office

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of Insurance Regulation or the Department of Financial

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Services; amending s. 626.9541, F.S.; prohibiting an

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insurer or person from considering certain factors when

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evaluating or adjusting a property insurance claim;

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providing an effective date.

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Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

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     Section 1.  Section 501.204, Florida Statutes, is amended to

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read:

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     501.204  Unlawful acts and practices.--

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     (1)  Unfair methods of competition, unconscionable acts or

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practices, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the

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conduct of any trade or commerce are hereby declared unlawful.

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     (2)  It is the intent of the Legislature that, in construing

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subsection (1), due consideration and great weight shall be given

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to the interpretations of the Federal Trade Commission and the

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federal courts relating to s. 5(a)(1) of the Federal Trade

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Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. s. 45(a)(1) as of July 1, 2006.

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(3) Acts or practices that violate s. 626.9541(1) are

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deceptive and unfair trade practices for the purpose of this

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section.

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     Section 2.  Subsection (4) of section 501.212, Florida

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Statutes, is amended to read:

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     501.212  Application.--This part does not apply to:

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     (4) Any person or activity regulated under laws

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administered by:

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     (a) The Office of Insurance Regulation of the Financial

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Services Commission;

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     (b) Banks and savings and loan associations regulated by

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the Office of Financial Regulation of the Financial Services

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Commission or;

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     (c) Banks or savings and loan associations regulated by

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federal agencies.; or

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     (d) Any person or activity regulated under the laws

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administered by the former Department of Insurance which are now

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administered by the Department of Financial Services.

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     Section 3.  Paragraph (i) of subsection (1) of section

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626.9541, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:

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     626.9541  Unfair methods of competition and unfair or

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deceptive acts or practices defined.--

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     (1)  UNFAIR METHODS OF COMPETITION AND UNFAIR OR DECEPTIVE

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ACTS.--The following are defined as unfair methods of competition

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and unfair or deceptive acts or practices:

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     (i)  Unfair claim settlement practices.--

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     1.  Attempting to settle claims on the basis of an

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application, when serving as a binder or intended to become a

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part of the policy, or any other material document that is which

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was altered without notice to, or knowledge or consent of, the

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insured;

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     2.  A material misrepresentation made to an insured or any

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other person having an interest in the proceeds payable under a

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such contract or policy, for the purpose and with the intent of

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effecting settlement of such claims, loss, or damage under such

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contract or policy on less favorable terms than those provided

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in, and contemplated by, the such contract or policy; or

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     3.  Committing or performing with such frequency as to

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indicate a general business practice any of the following:

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     a.  Failing to adopt and implement standards for the proper

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investigation of claims.;

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     b.  Misrepresenting pertinent facts or insurance policy

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provisions relating to coverages at issue.;

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     c.  Failing to acknowledge and act promptly upon

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communications with respect to claims.;

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     d.  Denying claims without conducting reasonable

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investigations based upon available information.;

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     e.  Failing to affirm or deny full or partial coverage of

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claims, and, as to partial coverage, the dollar amount or extent

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of coverage, or failing to provide a written statement that the

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claim is being investigated, upon the written request of the

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insured within 30 days after proof-of-loss statements have been

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completed.;

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     f.  Failing to promptly provide a reasonable explanation in

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writing to the insured of the basis in the insurance policy, in

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relation to the facts or applicable law, for denial of a claim or

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for the offer of a compromise settlement.;

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     g.  Failing to promptly notify the insured of any additional

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information necessary for the processing of a claim.; or

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     h.  Failing to clearly explain the nature of the requested

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information and the reasons why such information is necessary;

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or.

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     4. Giving consideration to the age, race, income level,

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education, credit score, or any other personal characteristic of

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a policyholder when evaluating, adjusting, settling, or

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attempting to settle a property insurance claim.

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     Section 4.  This act shall take effect July 1, 2008.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.

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