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May 26, 2020

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Florida Office of Insurance Regulation Issues Emergency Order Post Hurricane Irma

On September 4, 2017, Florida’s Governor, Rick Scott, declared a state of emergency in every county in Florida in anticipation of Hurricane Irma, through Executive Order No. 17-235, triggering Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier’s related emergency authority. Fla. Stat. § 252.63(1). On September 13, 2017, Commissioner Altmaier issued the Office of Insurance Regulation’s (the “Office”) Emergency Order establishing and amending certain rules for insurance companies post Hurricane Irma.

The Emergency Order applies to insurers and other entities regulated under the Florida Insurance Code.  It institutes temporary rules regarding cancelling or nonrenewing residential and commercial residential policies; temporary rules regarding rate filings, the “file and use” rate filing processes, and the “use and file” rate filing processes; new rules on time periods for action by insureds;  and detailed notice and cancellation requirements for premium finance companies.

The Emergency Order encourages insurers to use the “latest technological advances to provide prompt and efficient claims service to policyholders,” and it waives certain authorization requirements to enable the broader use of debit cards and electronic transactions to pay claims.  A few of the specific provisions are as follows.

Cancellations and Nonrenewals

  • Insurers may not cancel or non-renew a personal residential or commercial residential property insurance policy on a property that was damaged by Irma. The policy may be canceled or nonrenewed 90 days after the property has been repaired.

 Rate Filing Deadlines

  • Deemer periods, under which a filing is deemed approved if the Office does not act within a certain time period, are extended for 90 days commencing on September 4, 2017.
  • The Office is suspending acceptance of “file and use” rate changes for 90 days.
  • “Use and file” rate changes already pending at the Office, but not yet approved, with effective dates of September 4, 2017 through December 3, 2017, must be approved by the Office prior to implementation.
  • Any “use and file” rate changes currently in use without an official filing must be withdrawn and the previous rate reinstated.

Certain Insured Deadlines

  • Time limits in any policy provision, notice, law, or correspondence requiring an insured to act or transmit information after September 4, 2017, are extended to December 3, 2017. This extension does not apply to new policies issued on or after September 10, 2017.  The extension does not apply to premium due in the normal course of business.
  • No interest or other charges may be assessed as a result of the extensions. Interest due under premium financing plans may be assessed.
  • Premium due in the ordinary course of business may be assessed.

Cancellations and Nonrenewals 

  • No policies may be cancelled or nonrenewed between September 4 and October 15, 2017, unless requested in writing by the policyholder. Notices of cancellation issued or mailed on or after August 25, 2017, must be withdrawn and reissued on or after October 15, 2017.
  • Premium for the extended coverage period will be the appropriate pro rata portion of the premium for the entire term of the policy.
  • The extension rules do not apply to new policies effective on or after September 4, 2017.

Premium Finance Company Risks

  • There are separate rules for premium finance company cancellations.
  • The Emergency Order includes explicit notice language that must be included in a cancellation notice from a premium finance company.

Debit Cards and Electronic Transactions

  • For the duration of the State of Emergency, requirements for written authorization from the insured for use of electronic transfers or debit cards to pay claims are waived, as long as the insurer verifies the identity of the insured or the insured’s recipient and does not charge a fee for the transaction. The insurer remains liable for any misdirected funds.
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About this Author

Emily Mikes, Litigation, Insurance, Squire Patton Boggs Law Firm, Cleveland
Associate

Emily is an associate in the Litigation Practice Group. She draws on a wide range of experiences to assist clients with their needs.

While attending Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Emily received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award in Tax I.

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Patricia R. Hatler Regulatory Compliance Attorney Squire Patton Boggs
Of Counsel

Patricia R. Hatler brings 25+ years as a national leader and senior executive in the insurance industry, and leads the firm’s insurance industry cross-practice group. She assists a wide range of clients in transactional, litigation, regulatory compliance and corporate governance matters.

Prior to joining the firm, Pat served for 17 years as chief legal and governance officer for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, a Fortune 100 company. In that role she was responsible for operations and financial management of six divisions with a staff of 1,400, including the legal, corporate governance, federal and state government relations, corporate citizenship and corporate compliance functions. During her tenure at Nationwide, she provided advice and counsel through the transitions of three chief executive officers, three board chairs, four chief financial officers and numerous business unit presidents.

Some of her key achievements while at Nationwide include providing legal and regulatory support for Nationwide’s mergers and acquisitions; creating the infrastructure for Nationwide’s implementation of the regulatory requirements under the Sarbanes Oxley and the Dodd-Frank legislation; leading an industry coalition that secured amendment of Dodd-Frank’s capital requirements to better reflect state-regulated insurance practices; representing the interests of Nationwide in the significant litigation and regulatory inquiries that followed Hurricane Katrina; and creating the company’s first centralized compliance unit.

Pat was the General Counsel of Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia and a litigation lawyer with the Dechert firm in Philadelphia prior to joining Nationwide.

Pat served as board chair of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), the premier in-house bar association for in-house corporate counsel around the world. As such, she led the organization successfully through a significant leadership transition and continuing enrollment growth.

Recognitions

  • AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubble

  • Chief Legal Officer of the Year and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Business First of Columbus

  • Transformative Leadership Award from Inside Counsel

  • Regional Legal Employer of the Year from the Minority Corporate Counsel Association

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Martha Sullivan, Financial Institutions, Banking Litigation, Cleveland, Attorney, Squire Patton Boggs Law Firm

Martha S. Sullivan is a member of both Squire Patton Boggs’ Litigation and Financial Services Practice Groups. She co-leads the firm’s global Financial Services Litigation Practice, which includes litigators and dispute resolution lawyers in the US, the UK and countries throughout Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America.

Martha represents financial institutions and non-traditional lenders and financial services companies. Her practice focuses on financial services and banking litigation, disputes relating to complex financial instruments and other commercial contract disputes, claims...

216 479 8425