(1) Prior to issuing a homeowner’s insurance policy, the insurer must offer each of the following:
(a) A policy or endorsement providing that any loss that is repaired or replaced will be adjusted on the basis of replacement costs to the dwelling not exceeding policy limits, rather than actual cash value, but not including costs necessary to meet applicable laws and ordinances regulating the construction, use, or repair of any property or requiring the tearing down of any property, including the costs of removing debris.
(b) A policy or endorsement providing that, subject to other policy provisions, any loss that is repaired or replaced at any location will be adjusted on the basis of replacement costs to the dwelling not exceeding policy limits, rather than actual cash value, and also including costs necessary to meet applicable laws and ordinances regulating the construction, use, or repair of any property or requiring the tearing down of any property, including the costs of removing debris. However, additional costs necessary to meet applicable laws and ordinances may be limited to 25 percent or 50 percent of the dwelling limit, as selected by the policyholder, and such coverage applies only to repairs of the damaged portion of the structure unless the total damage to the structure exceeds 50 percent of the replacement cost of the structure.
An insurer is not required to make the offers required by this subsection with respect to the issuance or renewal of a homeowner’s policy that contains the provisions specified in paragraph (b) for law and ordinance coverage limited to 25 percent of the dwelling limit, except that the insurer must offer the law and ordinance coverage limited to 50 percent of the dwelling limit. This subsection does not prohibit the offer of a guaranteed replacement cost policy.
(2) Unless the insurer obtains the policyholder’s written refusal of the policies or endorsements specified in subsection (1), any policy covering the dwelling is deemed to include the law and ordinance coverage limited to 25 percent of the dwelling limit. The rejection or selection of alternative coverage shall be made on a form approved by the office. The form must fully advise the applicant of the nature of the coverage being rejected. If this form is signed by a named insured, it is conclusively presumed that there was an informed, knowing rejection of the coverage or election of the alternative coverage on behalf of all insureds. Unless the policyholder requests in writing the coverage specified in this section, it need not be provided in or supplemental to any other policy that renews, insures, extends, changes, supersedes, or replaces an existing policy if the policyholder has rejected the coverage specified in this section or has selected alternative coverage. The insurer must provide the policyholder with notice of the availability of such coverage in a form approved by the office at least once every 3 years. The failure to provide such notice constitutes a violation of this code, but does not affect the coverage provided under the policy.
(3) In the event of a loss for which a dwelling or personal property is insured on the basis of replacement costs:
(a) For a dwelling, the insurer must initially pay at least the actual cash value of the insured loss, less any applicable deductible. The insurer shall pay any remaining amounts necessary to perform such repairs as work is performed and expenses are incurred. If a total loss of a dwelling occurs, the insurer shall pay the replacement cost coverage without reservation or holdback of any depreciation in value, pursuant to s.627.702.
(b) For personal property:
1. The insurer must offer coverage under which the insurer is obligated to pay the replacement cost without reservation or holdback for any depreciation in value, whether or not the insured replaces the property.
2. The insurer may also offer coverage under which the insurer may limit the initial payment to the actual cash value of the personal property to be replaced, require the insured to provide receipts for the purchase of the property financed by the initial payment, use such receipts to make the next payment requested by the insured for the replacement of insured property, and continue this process until the insured remits all receipts up to the policy limits for replacement costs. The insurer must provide clear notice of this process before the policy is bound. A policyholder must be provided an actuarially reasonable premium credit or discount for this coverage. The insurer may not require the policyholder to advance payment for the replaced property.
(4) A homeowner’s insurance policy must include in bold type no smaller than 18 points the following statement:
“LAW AND ORDINANCE COVERAGE IS AN IMPORTANT COVERAGE THAT YOU MAY WISH TO PURCHASE. YOU MAY ALSO NEED TO CONSIDER THE PURCHASE OF FLOOD INSURANCE FROM THE NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM. WITHOUT THIS COVERAGE, YOU MAY HAVE UNCOVERED LOSSES. PLEASE DISCUSS THESE COVERAGES WITH YOUR INSURANCE AGENT.”
The intent of this subsection is to encourage policyholders to purchase sufficient coverage to protect them in case events excluded from the standard homeowners policy, such as law and ordinance enforcement and flood, combine with covered events to produce damage or loss to the insured property. The intent is also to encourage policyholders to discuss these issues with their insurance agent.
(5) This section does not:
(a) Apply to policies not considered to be “homeowners’ policies,” as that term is commonly understood in the insurance industry.
(b) Apply to mobile home policies.
(c) Limit the ability of an insurer to reject or nonrenew any insured or applicant on the grounds that the structure does not meet underwriting criteria applicable to replacement cost or law and ordinance policies or for other lawful reasons.
(d) Prohibit an insurer from limiting its liability under a policy or endorsement providing that loss will be adjusted on the basis of replacement costs to the lesser of:
1. The limit of liability shown on the policy declarations page;
2. The reasonable and necessary cost to repair the damaged, destroyed, or stolen covered property; or
3. The reasonable and necessary cost to replace the damaged, destroyed, or stolen covered property.
(e) Prohibit an insurer from exercising its right to repair damaged property in compliance with its policy and s.627.702(7).
History.—s. 17, ch. 93-410; s. 1184, ch. 2003-261; s. 14, ch. 2005-111; s. 23, ch. 2006-12; s. 4, ch. 2009-87; s. 19, ch. 2011-39.
(1)(a) In any claim filed with an insurer for personal injury in an amount of $10,000 or less or any claim for property damage in any amount, arising out of the ownership, operation, use, or maintenance of a motor vehicle, either party may demand mediation of the claim prior to the institution of litigation.
(b) A request for mediation shall be filed with the department on a form approved by the department. The request for mediation shall state the reason for the request for mediation and the issues in dispute which are to be mediated. The filing of a request for mediation tolls the applicable time requirements for filing suit for a period of 60 days following the conclusion of the mediation process or the time prescribed in s.95.11, whichever is later.
(c) The insurance policy must specify in detail the terms and conditions for mediation of a first-party claim.
(d) The mediation shall be conducted as an informal process in which formal rules of evidence and procedure need not be observed. Any party participating in a mediation must have the authority to make a binding decision. All parties must mediate in good faith.
(e) The department shall randomly select mediators. Each party may once reject the mediator selected, either originally or after the opposing side has exercised its option to reject a mediator.
(f) Costs of mediation shall be borne equally by both parties unless the mediator determines that one party has not mediated in good faith.
(g) Only one mediation may be requested for each claim, unless all parties agree to further mediation.
(1) The department shall issue a license to an applicant for a public adjuster's license upon determining that the applicant has paid the applicable fees specified in s. 624.501 and possesses the following qualifications:
(a) Is a natural person at least 18 years of age.
(b) Is a United States citizen or legal alien who possesses work authorization from the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.
(c) Is trustworthy and has such business reputation as would reasonably assure that the applicant will conduct his or her business as insurance adjuster fairly and in good faith and without detriment to the public.
(d) Has had sufficient experience, training, or instruction concerning the adjusting of damages or losses under insurance contracts, other than life and annuity contracts, is sufficiently informed as to the terms and effects of the provisions of those types of insurance contracts, and possesses adequate knowledge of the laws of this state relating to such contracts as to enable and qualify him or her to engage in the business of insurance adjuster fairly and without injury to the public or any member thereof with whom the applicant may have business as a public adjuster, or has been licensed and employed as a resident insurance company adjuster or independent adjuster in this state on a continual basis for the past year.
(e) Is licensed as a public adjuster apprentice under s. 626.8651 and complies with the requirements of that license throughout the licensure period.
(2) At the time of application for license as a public adjuster, the applicant shall file with the department a bond executed and issued by a surety insurer authorized to transact such business in this state, in the amount of $50,000, conditioned for the faithful performance of his or her duties as a public adjuster under the license for which the applicant has applied, and thereafter maintain the bond unimpaired throughout the existence of the license and for at least 1 year after termination of the license. The bond shall be in favor of the department and shall specifically authorize recovery by the department of the damages sustained in case the licensee is guilty of fraud or unfair practices in connection with his or her business as public adjuster. The aggregate liability of the surety for all such damages shall in no event exceed the amount of the bond. Such bond shall not be terminated unless at least 30 days' written notice is given to the licensee and filed with the department.
(3) The department may not issue a license as a public adjuster to any individual who has not passed the examination for a public adjuster's license. Any individual who is applying for reinstatement of a license after completion of a period of suspension and any individual who is applying for a new license after termination, cancellation, revocation, or expiration of a prior license as a public adjuster must pass the examination required for licensure as a public adjuster after approval of the application for reinstatement or for a new license regardless of whether the applicant passed an examination prior to issuance of the license that was suspended, terminated, canceled, revoked, or expired.
History.—s. 328, ch. 59-205; s. 4, ch. 65-16; ss. 13, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 1, ch. 77-116; s. 53, ch. 77-121; s. 3, ch. 81-282; s. 2, ch. 81-318; ss. 280, 293, 807, 810, ch. 82-243; s. 37, ch. 82-386; ss. 142, 206, 207, ch. 90-363; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 286, ch. 97-102; s. 55, ch. 98-199; s. 977, ch. 2003-261; s. 58, ch. 2003-267; s. 51, ch. 2003-281; s. 117, ch. 2004-5; s. 57, ch. 2004-390; s. 5, ch. 2007-199; s. 12, ch. 2008-220; s. 5, ch. 2009-87; s. 33, ch. 2012-209.
626.854 Public Adjuster Definition
626.854"Public adjuster" defined; prohibitions.—The Legislature finds that it is necessary for the protection of the public to regulate public insurance adjusters and to prevent the unauthorized practice of law.
(1)A "public adjuster" is any person, except a duly licensed attorney at law as exempted under s. 626.860, who, for money, commission, or any other thing of value, prepares, completes, or files an insurance claim form for an insured or third-party claimant or who, for money, commission, or any other thing of value, acts on behalf of, or aids an insured or third-party claimant in negotiating for or effecting the settlement of a claim or claims for loss or damage covered by an insurance contract or who advertises for employment as an adjuster of such claims. The term also includes any person who, for money, commission, or any other thing of value, solicits, investigates, or adjusts such claims on behalf of a public adjuster.
(2)This definition does not apply to:
(a)A licensed health care provider or employee thereof who prepares or files a health insurance claim form on behalf of a patient.
(b)A person who files a health claim on behalf of another and does so without compensation.
(3)A public adjuster may not give legal advice or act on behalf of or aid any person in negotiating or settling a claim relating to bodily injury, death, or noneconomic damages.
(4)For purposes of this section, the term "insured" includes only the policyholder and any beneficiaries named or similarly identified in the policy.
(5)A public adjuster may not directly or indirectly through any other person or entity solicit an insured or claimant by any means except on Monday through Saturday of each week and only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on those days.
(6)A public adjuster may not directly or indirectly through any other person or entity initiate contact or engage in face-to-face or telephonic solicitation or enter into a contract with any insured or claimant under an insurance policy until at least 48 hours after the occurrence of an event that may be the subject of a claim under the insurance policy unless contact is initiated by the insured or claimant.
(7)An insured or claimant may cancel a public adjuster's contract to adjust a claim without penalty or obligation within 3 business days after the date on which the contract is executed or within 3 business days after the date on which the insured or claimant has notified the insurer of the claim, by phone or in writing, whichever is later. The public adjuster's contract must disclose to the insured or claimant his or her right to cancel the contract and advise the insured or claimant that notice of cancellation must be submitted in writing and sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, or other form of mailing that provides proof thereof, to the public adjuster at the address specified in the contract; provided, during any state of emergency as declared by the Governor and for 1 year after the date of loss, the insured or claimant has 5 business days after the date on which the contract is executed to cancel a public adjuster's contract.
(8)It is an unfair and deceptive insurance trade practice pursuant to s. 626.9541 for a public adjuster or any other person to circulate or disseminate any advertisement, announcement, or statement containing any assertion, representation, or statement with respect to the business of insurance which is untrue, deceptive, or misleading.
(a)The following statements, made in any public adjuster's advertisement or solicitation, are considered deceptive or misleading:
1.A statement or representation that invites an insured policyholder to submit a claim when the policyholder does not have covered damage to insured property.
2.A statement or representation that invites an insured policyholder to submit a claim by offering monetary or other valuable inducement.
3.A statement or representation that invites an insured policyholder to submit a claim by stating that there is "no risk" to the policyholder by submitting such claim.
4.A statement or representation, or use of a logo or shield, that implies or could mistakenly be construed to imply that the solicitation was issued or distributed by a governmental agency or is sanctioned or endorsed by a governmental agency.
(b)For purposes of this paragraph, the term "written advertisement" includes only newspapers, magazines, flyers, and bulk mailers. The following disclaimer, which is not required to be printed on standard size business cards, must be added in bold print and capital letters in typeface no smaller than the typeface of the body of the text to all written advertisements by a public adjuster:
"THIS IS A SOLICITATION FOR BUSINESS. IF YOU HAVE HAD A CLAIM FOR AN INSURED PROPERTY LOSS OR DAMAGE AND YOU ARE SATISFIED WITH THE PAYMENT BY YOUR INSURER, YOU MAY DISREGARD THIS ADVERTISEMENT."
(9)A public adjuster, a public adjuster apprentice, or any person or entity acting on behalf of a public adjuster or public adjuster apprentice may not give or offer to give a monetary loan or advance to a client or prospective client.
(10)A public adjuster, public adjuster apprentice, or any individual or entity acting on behalf of a public adjuster or public adjuster apprentice may not give or offer to give, directly or indirectly, any article of merchandise having a value in excess of $25 to any individual for the purpose of advertising or as an inducement to entering into a contract with a public adjuster.
(11)(a)If a public adjuster enters into a contract with an insured or claimant to reopen a claim or file a supplemental claim that seeks additional payments for a claim that has been previously paid in part or in full or settled by the insurer, the public adjuster may not charge, agree to, or accept any compensation, payment, commission, fee, or other thing of value based on a previous settlement or previous claim payments by the insurer for the same cause of loss. The charge, compensation, payment, commission, fee, or other thing of value 1must be based only on the claim payments or settlement obtained through the work of the public adjuster after entering into the contract with the insured or claimant. Compensation for the reopened or supplemental claim may not exceed 20 percent of the reopened or supplemental claim payment. The contracts described in this paragraph are not subject to the limitations in paragraph (b).
(b)A public adjuster may not charge, agree to, or accept any compensation, payment, commission, fee, or other thing of value in excess of:
1.Ten percent of the amount of insurance claim payments made by the insurer for claims based on events that are the subject of a declaration of a state of emergency by the Governor. This provision applies to claims made during 2the year after the declaration of emergency. 3After that year, the limitations in subparagraph 2. apply.
2.Twenty percent of the amount of insurance claim payments made by the insurer for claims that are not based on events that are the subject of a declaration of a state of emergency by the Governor.
(12)Each public adjuster must provide to the claimant or insured a written estimate of the loss to assist in the submission of a proof of loss or any other claim for payment of insurance proceeds. The public adjuster shall retain such written estimate for at least 5 years and shall make the estimate available to the claimant or insured, the insurer, and the department upon request.
(13)A public adjuster, public adjuster apprentice, or any person acting on behalf of a public adjuster or apprentice may not accept referrals of business from any person with whom the public adjuster conducts business if there is any form or manner of agreement to compensate the person, directly or indirectly, for referring business to the public adjuster. A public adjuster may not compensate any person, except for another public adjuster, directly or indirectly, for the principal purpose of referring business to the public adjuster.
(14)A company employee adjuster, independent adjuster, attorney, investigator, or other persons acting on behalf of an insurer that needs access to an insured or claimant or to the insured property that is the subject of a claim must provide at least 48 hours' notice to the insured or claimant, public adjuster, or legal representative before scheduling a meeting with the claimant or an onsite inspection of the insured property. The insured or claimant may deny access to the property if the notice has not been provided. The insured or claimant may waive the 48-hour notice.
(15)A public adjuster must ensure prompt notice of property loss claims submitted to an insurer by or through a public adjuster or on which a public adjuster represents the insured at the time the claim or notice of loss is submitted to the insurer. The public adjuster must ensure that notice is given to the insurer, the public adjuster's contract is provided to the insurer, the property is available for inspection of the loss or damage by the insurer, and the insurer is given an opportunity to interview the insured directly about the loss and claim. The insurer must be allowed to obtain necessary information to investigate and respond to the claim.
(a)The insurer may not exclude the public adjuster from its in-person meetings with the insured. The insurer shall meet or communicate with the public adjuster in an effort to reach agreement as to the scope of the covered loss under the insurance policy. This section does not impair the terms and conditions of the insurance policy in effect at the time the claim is filed.
(b)A public adjuster may not restrict or prevent an insurer, company employee adjuster, independent adjuster, attorney, investigator, or other person acting on behalf of the insurer from having reasonable access at reasonable times to an insured or claimant or to the insured property that is the subject of a claim.
(c)A public adjuster may not act or fail to reasonably act in any manner that obstructs or prevents an insurer or insurer's adjuster from timely conducting an inspection of any part of the insured property for which there is a claim for loss or damage. The public adjuster representing the insured may be present for the insurer's inspection, but if the unavailability of the public adjuster otherwise delays the insurer's timely inspection of the property, the public adjuster or the insured must allow the insurer to have access to the property without the participation or presence of the public adjuster or insured in order to facilitate the insurer's prompt inspection of the loss or damage.
(16)A licensed contractor under part I of chapter 489, or a subcontractor, may not adjust a claim on behalf of an insured unless licensed and compliant as a public adjuster under this chapter. However, the contractor may discuss or explain a bid for construction or repair of covered property with the residential property owner who has suffered loss or damage covered by a property insurance policy, or the insurer of such property, if the contractor is doing so for the usual and customary fees applicable to the work to be performed as stated in the contract between the contractor and the insured.
(17)The provisions of subsections (5)-(16) apply only to residential property insurance policies and condominium unit owner policies as defined in s. 718.111(11).
History.—s. 317, ch. 59-205; s. 3, ch. 81-282; s. 2, ch. 81-318; ss. 293, 807, 810, ch. 82-243; s. 25, ch. 88-166; ss. 206, 207, ch. 90-363; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 1, ch. 95-238; s. 10, ch. 2008-220; s. 3, ch. 2009-87; ss. 7, 8, ch. 2011-39.
1Note.—The word "must" was substituted for the word "may" by s. 8, ch. 2011-39, without coding.
2Note.—The words "period of 1" following the word "the" were deleted without coding by s. 8, ch. 2011-39.
3Note.—As enacted without coding by s. 8, ch. 2011-39, effective January 1, 2012. Section 7, ch. 2011-39, added a different version, with coding, effective June 1, 2011, and that version reads: "After that 1-year period, 20 percent of the amount of insurance claim payments made by the insurer."
(1) A "public adjuster apprentice" is any person who is not a licensed public adjuster, who is employed by or has a contract with a licensed and appointed public adjuster in good standing with the department or a public adjusting firm that employs at least one licensed and appointed public adjuster in good standing with the department to assist a public adjuster in conducting business under the license, and who satisfies the requirements of s. 626.8651.
(2) A public adjuster apprentice must work with a licensed and appointed public adjuster for a period of 12 months as set forth in this section, and must otherwise be in full compliance with this chapter, prior to being eligible for appointment as a licensed public adjuster.
History.—s. 11, ch. 2008-220; s. 79, ch. 2009-21.