“FIC is the organization that takes the comprehensive, long view of what is the right thing to do in Florida. Not all associations do that.” FIC Treasurer Angel Bostick, who becomes Chair in 2015. Angel is Vice President and General Counsel, American Strategic Insurance, St. Petersburg.

The Florida Legislature convenes for the 2014 session Tuesday, March 4. Underlying almost everything Republican leaders will do is a strategy to help Governor Rick Scott win re-election this fall against former Governor Charlie Crist, a Republican ,then an independent and now a Democrat.  

“Republicans in the House and Senate are going to do everything they can to keep anything controversial off of Governor Scott’s desk,” says FIC lobbyist Gary Guzzo of Floridian Partners. “Passing good legislation is always tough. It will be especially tough this year,” says FIC lobbyist Don Brown.

Insurance is especially controversial because most issues involve rates – potential increases or if decreases, steps which are attacked by our perennial opponents – trial lawyers, public adjusters and may other groups.

FIC Agenda: Preserve the Salary Credit; Fight Bad Bills and Do no Harm

“It  was agreed at our pre-session conference at Amelia Island the FIC agenda pro-active agenda would be focused and limited, the most prudent strategy in a major election year,” says FIC President Cecil Pearce. “We will be prepared to preserve the salary credit on the insurance premium tax, if we have to fight that fight again.”

“We expect legislation promote STOLI life insurance to surface again. There are several health insurance challenges, including a Florida Medical Association bill reducing control of health plans over pharmaceuticals,” Cecil continues. ““We don’t think PIP will be an issue in 2014, but probably next session. On property insurance, because that is so controversial and because the property market is working well right now, our agenda is limited and we want to be sure no harm is done.”

Just because it is election year doesn’t mean a lot of bills won’t be filed. As FIC lobbyists report, there are as many controversial property packages as ever, including:

  • Restructuring the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund (HB 391 & SB 482, HB 1127 & SB 610) ;
  • Promoting flood insurance by private insurers in Florida (HB 581 & SB 542, HB 879);
  • Defining and prohibiting unfair discrimination b insurers against gun owners (HB 255 & SB 424);
  • An Insurance Claims Bill of Rights and restrictions on Assignment of Benefits from Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Insurance Consumer Advocate Steve Burgess (HB 759 & SB 708);
  • Revisions in assessment procedures by the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (Hb 143 & SB 346);
  • A series of insurance packages, including the Non-controversial Omnibus Bill which was developed last year, but did not pass (HB 565 & SB 1260).

Major Challenges Confronting FIC

Major challenges confronting the Florida Insurance Council and its members in 2014 include:

  • Preserving the $230-million-a-year Florida job credit on the insurance premium tax. With FIC and Associated Industries in the lead, the insurance community defeated a Senate-passed bill during the 2013 session abolishing the jobs credit. This issue may return in 2014, although no bills have been filed. The salary credit continues to make Florida a national leader in creation of insurance jobs.
  • Preserving the workers’ comp system.  Three lawsuits heading for the Florida Supreme Court tackle the building blocks of Florida’s workers’ comp insurance system – benefits, immunity and attorney fee reforms. The Council is prepared to seek legislative fixes if the final decision in any or all of these cases requires it.
  • Preserving the life insurance insurable interest law and blocking STOLI products.  The Office of Insurance Regulation, in a report on the secondary life insurance market, there was no need for additional consumer protections or other STOLI legislation. Major hedge funds and life settlement companies are expected to have their pro-STOLI agenda  and FIC and the American Council of Life Insurance will lead the opposition as they have successfully over the last several years.
  • Ensuring “no harm” in Florida’s property insurance system. We will lobby for continued stability in the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund; and elimination of Citizens Property Insurance Corporation assessments and competition with private insurers; and closely watch all other property and casualty issues.
  • Defending the 2012 PIP reforms in court and working to implement them. FIC also will monitor deliberations of the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee over a bill replacing PIP with mandatory BI and, possibly, other coverage. (We do not believe the House intends to deal with PIP in 2014, but will be watching it.)
  • Supporting HB 187, Insurer Civil Remedy, and other legal reforms. FIC is a partner with the Florida Justice Reform Association and the American and State Chamber insurer “bad faith” reform initiative.

FIC also is watching these key bills:

General: Insurer Fair Claims Settlement Act (HB 187) - Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, has filed the insurer fair claim settlement bill (HB 187) from the 2013 session for the upcoming 2014 session. FIC lobbyists believe this will get serious consideration next spring. The bill allows the insured, claimant, or someone acting on behalf of the claimant to send the insurer a written notice of loss, after which the insurer had 45 days to pay the lesser of the demand or policy limits.

OIR Holding Company/PBR Bill (SB 1308) - Senate Banking & Insurance Chairman David Simmons has filed the Office of Insurance Regulation’s bill implementing the NAIC model acts on insurance company holding companies and principle-based reserves. FIC lobbyist Paul Sanford says OIR has moved to track the model acts except for differences in terminology required by Florida Statutes.

Health: Bill Reduces Health Plan Control over Pharmaceuticals (H 1001) - A Florida Medical Association-backed package reducing health plan control over pharmaceuticals and allowing physician overrides of step- therapy protocol will increase costs and presents a serious challenge to the industry. The various issues in HB 1001 have been a priority of the FMA for some time and the package was not totally unexpected. It must be taken seriously, in part, because of the support physicians receive on most of their key issues from Senate President Don Gaetz.

Telemedicine Bills (SB 7028) - The Senate Health Policy Committee is developing a package promoting telemedicine. The FIC Health Committee and other health insurance groups have two big issues – levels of reimbursement and participation by out-of-state providers.
Dental Managed Care/Non-Covered Services (HB 31, SB 86) - This bill would prohibit a dental managed care plan from enforcing with a dentist contract-established fees on services not covered by the plan.  The Senate version does include the NCOIL definition of non-covered services.

Workers’ Comp: Retrospective Rating (HB 47, also HB 565, House omnibus bill) - Creates a new s. 627.072(2), which permits retrospective rating plans to provide for negotiation between an employer and insurer to determine the retrospective rating factors used to calculate premium when the employer has more exposure in more than one state and an estimated annual countrywide standard premium of $1 million or more for workers’ compensation.
DFS/DWC Revisions in Employer Compliance Statutes (HB 271, SB 444).