(1) The Legislature finds that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of sinkholes and insurance claims for sinkhole damage in the state during the past 10 years. Accordingly, the Legislature recognizes the need to track current and past sinkhole activity and to make the information available for prevention and remediation activities. The Legislature further finds that the Florida Geological Survey of the Department of Environmental Protection has created a partial database of some sinkholes identified in Florida, although the database is not reflective of all sinkholes or insurance claims for sinkhole damage. The Legislature determines that creating a complete electronic database of sinkhole activity serves an important purpose in protecting the public and in studying property claims activities in the insurance industry.
(2) The Department of Financial Services, including the employee of the Division of Consumer Services designated as the primary contact for consumers on issues relating to sinkholes, and the Office of the Insurance Consumer Advocate shall consult with the Florida Geological Survey and the Department of Environmental Protection to implement a statewide automated database of sinkholes and related activity identified in the state.
(3) Representatives of the Department of Financial Services, with the agreement of the Department of Environmental Protection, shall determine the form and content of the database. The content may include standards for reporting and investigating sinkholes for inclusion in the database and requirements for insurers to report to the departments the receipt of claims involving sinkhole loss and other similar activities. The Department of Financial Services may require insurers to report present and past data of sinkhole claims. The database also may include information of damage due to ground settling and other subsidence activity.
(4) The Department of Financial Services may manage the database or may contract for its management and maintenance. The Department of Environmental Protection shall investigate reports of sinkhole activity and include its findings and investigations in the database.
(5) The Department of Environmental Protection, in consultation with the Department of Financial Services, shall present a report of activities relating to the sinkhole database, including recommendations regarding the database and similar matters, to the Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate, and the Chief Financial Officer by December 31, 2005. The report may consider the need for the Legislature to create an entity to study the increase in sinkhole activity in the state and other similar issues relating to sinkhole damage, including recommendations and costs for staffing the entity. The report may include other information, as appropriate.
(6) The Department of Financial Services, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection, may adopt rules to implement this section.