SB 76, filed by Senator Jim Boyd this session, makes various changes to address issues related to property insurance policies, claims, and litigation.
SB 76 creates a strong presumption that in awarding attorney fees, the lodestar amount is sufficient and reasonable, and is rebuttable only in “rare and exceptional” circumstances by evidence that competent counsel could not be retained in a reasonable manner.
SB 76 allows an insurer to offer homeowner’s insurance policies that adjust claims on roofs 10-years old or older on the basis of a roof surface reimbursement schedule that provides less than replacement cost coverage.
SB 76 prevents the filing of a claim, supplemental claim, or reopened claim under a property insurance policy unless notice is provided to the insurer within 2 years of the date of the loss.
SB 76 creates s. 627.70152, F.S., governing suits brought by an insured or assignee arising under a property insurance policy. Claimants must provide notice prior to the filing of a lawsuit and make a presuit demand. Insurers may file to abate proceedings until notice has been perfected or where their rights to inspect are infringed.
The section revises how attorney fees are awarded to claimants. To award attorney fees, the court must compare the judgment to the demand and award fees based on a formula. If the quotient of the judgment obtained by the claimant divided by the demand made by the claimant is: • Greater than or equal to 0.8, the claimant is entitled to an award of attorney fees in the full amount. • Equal to or greater than 0.2 but less than 0.8, the claimant is entitled to an award of attorney fees equal to the product of the incurred reasonable attorney fees multiplied by the quotient. For example, if the claimant obtains a judgment of $20,000 and the claimant’s demand was $40,000, the demand-judgment quotient would be 0.5. If the claimant’s reasonable attorney fees were $10,000, the attorney fees paid by the insurer would be $5,000, which is the product of multiplying $10,000 in attorney fees by the demand judgment quotient of 0.5. • Less than 0.2, the claimant is not entitled to an award of attorney fees.
The roof surface reimbursement schedule must provide for repair, replacement, and installation based on the annual age of the roof and the roof surface type. In the event of a total loss, the insurer’s liability will be for the amount of the insured property, as provided for in Florida’s Valued Policy Law.
SB 76 is the Florida Senate companion bill to HB 305.