CFO Jeff Atwater praises passage of Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights bill

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Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater congratulated the House and Senate on passing legislation today that creates a Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights.

A top priority for Atwater in the legislative session, the bill provides both important consumer protections and greater transparency in the insurance claim-filing process.

The measure also addresses other concerns about the homeowner claims process, such as eliminating dishonest post-claim underwriting practices, leading to denied claims for innocent consumers.

The bill is now waiting for Gov. Rick Scott’s signature.

“The Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights is a much-needed resource for homeowners that will notify them of their rights and responsibilities when filing an insurance claim and give them the confidence that they will be treated fairly during a stressful situation,” said Atwater.

Any policyholder filing a claim will now get a Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights, as a reference to current Florida law. The document will outline the claims handling process, and provides information on legal rights in the claims process.

Policyholders will now have the opportunity to know what to expect and get advice on the next steps to take in the process.

Senate Bill 708, which passed unanimously through both chambers of the legislature, eliminates post-claim underwriting.

Insurers will now require completing the underwriting process in 90 days; the bill also prohibits them from denying claims and/or canceling a policy based on the insured’s credit information after a policy has been in force for at least 90 days.

Florida homeowners will have additional safeguards by ensuring appraisal umpires stay neutral, and give the Department of Financial Services power to remove and discipline mediators who engage in inappropriate behavior.

 

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.