Florida lawmakers have passed a bill that the insurance industry claims will modernize the state's system and limit certain types of lawsuits. This comes as many Florida homeowners are still struggling with claims filed for hurricane damage and other types of problems caused by severe weather. House Bill 301 addressed a number of issues related to the state's insurance industry and could be a mixed bag for insured homeowners.

Among other changes, the bill changes the amount of reimbursement that insurers can receive for adjustment expenses from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. This trust fund reimburses insurers for a percentage of covered residential hurricane losses. All insurance companies in Florida must enter contracts with the fund, given the number of serious homeowners' insurance claims related to hurricane damage. In the past, adjustment expenses were reimbursed to insurers at 5%, a sum that will increase to 10% under the legislation.

The bill will also make it easier for surplus lines insurance companies to compete directly with local insurers for insurance contracts for high-value commercial and residential properties. Insurance broker fees were previously capped at $35 for surplus lines contracts. This bill removes the cap and requires a "reasonable" disclosed fee. In addition, agents previously needed to be rejected by three insurance companies to go to the surplus lines market for homes valued under $1 million. This bill lowers the amount to $700,000; brokers can seek surplus lines coverage after one decline for homes valued above that amount.

Some raised concerns, noting that consumers may have difficulties when filing claims for residential property damage with their surplus lines insurers, given that these companies operate outside the state. Many people are also facing delayed or denied claims even from local insurance companies; they may turn to insurance law attorneys to find help in pursuing the compensation they deserve.

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