Section 634.282, Florida Statutes 2009
634.282 Unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices defined.--The following methods, acts, or practices are defined as unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices:
(1) MISREPRESENTATION AND FALSE ADVERTISING.--Knowingly making, issuing, circulating, or causing to be made, issued, or circulated, any estimate, illustration, circular, statement, sales presentation, omission, or comparison which:
(a) Misrepresents the benefits, advantages, conditions, or terms of any motor vehicle service agreement.
(b) Is misleading or is a misrepresentation as to the financial condition of any person.
(c) Uses any name or title of any contract misrepresenting the true nature thereof.
(d) Is a misrepresentation for the purpose of inducing, or tending to induce, the lapse, forfeiture, exchange, conversion, or surrender of any motor vehicle service agreement.
(e) Uses any advertisement that would mislead or otherwise cause a reasonable person to believe mistakenly that the state or federal government is responsible for the motor vehicle service agreement sales activity of any person or stands behind any person's credit or that any person, the state, or the federal government guarantees any returns on motor vehicle service agreements or is a source of payment of any motor vehicle service agreement obligation of or sold by any person.
(2) FALSE INFORMATION AND ADVERTISING GENERALLY.--Knowingly making, publishing, disseminating, circulating, or placing before the public, or causing, directly or indirectly, to be made, published, disseminated, circulated, or placed before the public:
(a) In a newspaper, magazine, or other publication;
(b) In the form of a notice, circular, pamphlet, letter, or poster;
(c) Over any radio or television station; or
(d) Over the Internet, electronically, or in any other way,
an advertisement, announcement, or statement containing any assertion, representation, or statement with respect to the business of motor vehicle service agreements, which assertion, representation, or statement is untrue, deceptive, or misleading.
(3) DEFAMATION.--Knowingly making, publishing, disseminating, or circulating, directly or indirectly, or aiding, abetting, or encouraging the making, publishing, disseminating, or circulating of, any oral or written statement, or any pamphlet, circular, article, or literature, that is false or maliciously critical of, or derogatory to, any person and that is calculated to injure such person.
(4) BOYCOTT, COERCION, AND INTIMIDATION.--Entering into any agreement to commit, or by any concerted action committing, any act of boycott, coercion, or intimidation resulting in, or tending to result in, unreasonable restraint of, or monopoly in, the business of motor vehicle service agreements.
(5) FALSE STATEMENTS AND ENTRIES.--
1. Filing with any supervisory or other public official;
2. Making, publishing, disseminating, or circulating;
3. Delivering to any person;
4. Placing before the public; or
5. Causing, directly or indirectly, to be made, published, disseminated, circulated, delivered to any person, or placed before the public,
any false statement.
(b) Knowingly making any false entry of a material fact in any book, report, or statement of any person, or knowingly failing to make a true entry of any material fact pertaining to the business of such person in any book, report, or statement of such person.
(6) UNFAIR DISCRIMINATION.--Knowingly making or permitting any unfair discrimination between individuals of the same actuarially supportable class and essentially the same hazard, in the amount of premium, policy fees, or rates charged for any motor vehicle service agreement, in any of the terms or conditions of such agreement, or in any other manner whatsoever.
(7) UNLAWFUL REBATES.--Except as otherwise expressly provided by law, or in an applicable filing with the office, knowingly:
(a) Permitting, or offering to make, or making, any contract or agreement as to such contract other than as plainly expressed in the motor vehicle service agreement issued thereon;
(b) Paying, allowing, or giving, or offering to pay, allow, or give, directly or indirectly, as inducement to such motor vehicle service agreement, any unlawful rebate of premiums payable on the agreement, any special favor or advantage in the benefits thereon, or any valuable consideration or inducement not specified in the agreement;
(c) Giving, selling, or purchasing, or offering to give, sell, or purchase, as an inducement to such motor vehicle service agreement or in connection therewith, any stocks, bonds, or other securities of any insurance company, service agreement company, or other corporation, association, or partnership, or any dividends or profits accrued thereon, or anything of value not specified in the motor vehicle service agreement.
(8) UNFAIR CLAIM SETTLEMENT PRACTICES.--
(a) Attempting to settle claims on the basis of an application or any other material document that was altered without notice to, or knowledge or consent of, the service agreement holder;
(b) Making a material misrepresentation to the service agreement holder for the purpose and with the intent of effecting settlement of such claims, loss, or damage under such contract on less favorable terms than those provided in, and contemplated by, such contract; or
(c) Committing or performing with such frequency as to indicate a general business practice any of the following practices:
1. Failure to adopt and implement internal standards for the investigation of claims;
2. Misrepresentation of pertinent facts or contract provisions relating to coverages at issue;
3. Failure to acknowledge and act promptly upon communications with respect to claims;
4. Denial of claims without conducting reasonable investigations based upon available information;
5. Failure to affirm or deny full or partial coverage of claims and, as to partial coverage, the dollar amount or extent of coverage, or failure to provide a written statement that the claim is being investigated, upon written request of the service agreement holder within 30 days after proof-of-loss statements have been completed;
6. Failure to promptly provide a reasonable explanation to the service agreement holder of the basis in the contract in relation to the facts or applicable law for denial of a claim or for the offer of a compromise settlement;
7. Failure to promptly notify the service agreement holder of any additional information necessary for the processing of a claim; or
8. Failure to clearly explain the nature of the requested information and the reasons such information is necessary.
(9) FAILURE TO MAINTAIN PROCEDURES FOR HANDLING COMPLAINTS.--Failing to maintain a complete record of all complaints received since the date of the last examination. For purposes of this paragraph, "complaint" means any written communication primarily expressing a grievance.
(10) DISCRIMINATORY REFUSAL TO ISSUE A CONTRACT.--Refusing to issue a contract solely because of an individual's race, color, creed, marital status, sex, or national origin.
(11) MISREPRESENTATION IN SERVICE AGREEMENT APPLICATIONS.--Knowingly making a false or fraudulent written or oral statement or representation on, or relative to, an application or negotiation for a motor vehicle service agreement for the purpose of obtaining a fee, commission, money, or other benefit from any insurer, service agreement company, agent, broker, salesperson, or individual.
(12) FREE SERVICE AGREEMENTS.--
(a) Advertising, offering, or providing a free motor vehicle service agreement as an inducement to the purchase or sale of real or personal property or of services directly or indirectly connected with such real or personal property.
(b) For the purposes of this subsection, a "free" motor vehicle service agreement is:
1. A motor vehicle service agreement for which no identifiable and additional charge is made to the purchaser of such real property, personal property, or services.
2. A motor vehicle service agreement for which an identifiable or additional charge is made in an amount less than the cost of such motor vehicle service agreement as to the seller or other person, other than the service agreement company, providing the same.
3. Using the word "free" or words that imply the provision of a motor vehicle service agreement without a cost in connection with the advertising or offering for sale of any kind of goods, merchandise, or services.
(13) ILLEGAL DEALINGS IN PREMIUMS; EXCESS OR REDUCED CHARGES FOR MOTOR VEHICLE SERVICE AGREEMENTS.--
(a) Knowingly collecting any sum as a premium or charge for a motor vehicle service agreement, which is not then provided, or is not in due course to be provided, subject to acceptance of the risk by a service agreement company or an insurer, by a motor vehicle service agreement issued by a service agreement company or an insurer as permitted by this part.
(b) Knowingly collecting as a premium or charge for a motor vehicle service agreement any sum in excess of or less than the premium or charge applicable to such motor vehicle service agreement, in accordance with the applicable classifications and rates as filed with the office, and as specified in the motor vehicle service agreement.
(14) INTERLOCKING OWNERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT.--
(a) Any motor vehicle service agreement company may retain, invest in, or acquire the whole or any part of the capital of any other motor vehicle service agreement company, or have a common management with any other motor vehicle service agreement company, unless such retention, investment, acquisition, or common management is inconsistent with any other provision of this part, or unless by reason thereof the business of such insurers with the public is conducted in a manner that substantially lessens competition generally in the insurance business.
(b) Any person otherwise qualified may be a director of two or more motor vehicle service agreement companies that are competitors, unless the effect thereof is substantially to lessen competition between motor vehicle service agreement companies generally or materially tend to create a monopoly.
(15) FALSE CLAIMS; OBTAINING OR RETAINING MONEY DISHONESTLY.--
(a) Any salesperson who causes to be presented to any motor vehicle service agreement company a false claim for payment, knowing the same to be false; or
(b) Any salesperson who represents any motor vehicle service agreement company or collects or does business without the authority of the motor vehicle service agreement company, secures cash advances by false statements, or fails to turn over when required, or satisfactorily account for, all collections of such motor vehicle service agreement company,
in addition to the other penalties provided in this act, commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(16) SLIDING.--Sliding is the act or practice of:
(a) Representing to the applicant that a specific ancillary coverage or product is required by law in conjunction with the purchase of a motor vehicle service agreement when such coverage or product is not required;
(b) Representing to the applicant that a specific ancillary coverage or product is included in the motor vehicle service agreement contract applied for without an additional charge when such charge is required; or
(c) Charging an applicant for a specific ancillary coverage or product, in addition to the cost of the motor vehicle service agreement coverage applied for, without the informed consent of the applicant.
No provision of this section shall be deemed to prohibit a service agreement company or a licensed insurer from giving to service agreement holders, prospective service agreement holders, and others for the purpose of advertising, any article of merchandise having a value of not more than $25.
History.--s. 7, ch. 2001-281; s. 1443, ch. 2003-261.