Make us your home page

Gov. Rick Scott signs sweeping property insurance changes into law

TALLAHASSEE — The insurance industry celebrated Tuesday after Gov. Rick Scott signed a sweeping property insurance bill into law.

Consumer advocates lamented the move, which came just six days after the governor received the bill. He had until May 26 to sign it.

"No one is shocked that Gov. Rick Scott would sign an anticonsumer bill that raises rates and hurts our economy, but his eagerness is telling," said Sean Shaw, founder of Policyholders of Florida. "There was growing and overwhelming opposition to this bill, which is probably why the governor rushed to sign it into law, to avoid more bad press about rate impending rate hikes in a bad economy."

Among other things, the bill allows insurance companies to pass on reinsurance costs to policyholders, shortens the window for filing sinkhole and storm-related damage claims, and limits claims for damage caused by sinkholes to primary structures.

From May 6 to 12, the Governor's Office received nearly 400 phone calls, e-mails and letters on SB 408, nearly every one of them opposing the measure.

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, fought the measure throughout the legislative session. Some of the provisions he opposed — such as freeing insurance companies from a requirement to offer comprehensive sinkhole coverage altogether — were removed from the bill.

But until the end he objected to the bill in part because of its potential to lead to rate increases.

"Big business has triumphed over the needs of the consumer," Fasano said Tuesday. "Insurance companies will only get richer because of this legislation, while policyholders will have to pay more of their hard-earned money for what will amount to less coverage."

Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, and Rep. John Wood, R-Winter Haven, sponsored the legislation.

Business and insurance groups heralded the bill-signing as an important step toward increasing competition in the insurance marketplace.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce called Scott's move a bold act of leadership.

"Despite what the critics say, signing this bill into law is the first step toward stabilizing Florida's property insurance market," said chamber chief executive Mark Wilson. "It will increase competition by attracting insurance companies that currently do not write property insurance policies in Florida."

Michael Carlson, executive director of the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida, cast the bill as good for consumers, commending the governor for recognizing the "value and importance of a vibrant private insurance market in Florida."

Scott signed the bill without ceremony, issuing a brief news release afterward that said the signing followed through on his "campaign promise to allow competition that gives consumers more insurance choices."

He characterized the bill as "addressing cost drivers associated with burdensome regulations, and confronting the sinkhole crisis."

Janet Zink can be reached at or (850) 224-7263.

>>Fast facts

Highlights of the new law

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday signed SB 408 into law. Among other things, the law:

• Allows insurance companies to limit sinkhole coverage to primary structures.

• Allows insurance companies to increase rates by up to 15 percent to cover reinsurance costs.

• Shortens the window for filing windstorm and hurricane claims from five years to three years after a storm hits.

• Allows insurance companies to hold back replacement value payments on home damage until after repairs have been made.

Gov. Rick Scott signs sweeping property insurance changes into law 05/17/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 10:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county


    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.