Tomorrow a Committee of the Florida Legislature will take up a bill to make it easier for insurance companies to act in “bad faith” towards their customers. The Bill, filed by Representative Kathleen C. Passidomo, is not only anti-family, but even worse in light of today’s economy — is anti-small business.
The Bill, HB 427, would change current law in Florida by allowing insurance companies to act in bad faith unless and until a ‘civil remedy notice’ was filed, calling them out for bad faith. At that point, if the insurance company offers its policy limits, it will have complete immunity for damages that have been caused to its customer.
The problem with the Bill for small businesses is that laws are already tilted toward the insurance companies. Florida is one of the few states in the country where insurance companies are already permitted to handle claims negligently, with no consequence when it fails to fairly settle a claim and the business is hit with a verdict in excess of its policy limits.
Tampa businessman Bing Kearney, a prominent Republican, has said “I cannot imagine that our legislature would even consider passing this bill. It literally gives a green light to every insurance company to act in bad faith on every single claim. The civil remedy notice requirement gives the insurance company a second chance to get out of the liability but not its customer who is the one that paid for liability protection to begin with.”
Kearney further argues that “A business facing a catastrophic claim needs their insurer to live up to all their promises of protection. The Passidomo Bill would give insurance companies this extra 60 days, but not their customers. By then the chance to settle out of court may have passed, so this means the customer ends up paying the entire loss. This bill would protect only one business — the insurance business – and leave all the rest of us to pay for the clean up of the damages caused by their bad faith.
Another business owner of a small drycleaner and custom tailor in Tampa called Sew Fast has also come out against the Bill. Sew Fast frequently has commercial vehicles on the road, and finds it ‘outrageous’ that its insurance company would even try to get a “free pass” if they exposed to it to an excess claim, after taking premiums for protection, month after month for years.
Several hundred other small businesses have also expressed their opposition to this Bill, despite relatively light coverage by the media.
The bill is also patently anti-family. The Bill will absolutely result in claims being delayed, costs going up, and insurance companies getting protection for acting in bad faith towards their customers.
Even though this issue has not received much attention from the press, it has from the well financed insurance lobby. There have literally been dozens of lobbyists working this bill as part of a well-orchestrated and well-financed campaign.
The Civil Justice Subcommittee is scheduled to take place tomorrow morning. Committee members include Chairman Eric Eisnaugle, Representatives Clay Ford, Richard Steinberg, Bernard Mack, Matt Gaetz, Bill Hager, Shawn Harrison, Marty Kiar, Larry Metz, Darren Soto, Cynthia Stafford, Kelli Stargel, Greg Steube and Michael Weinstein.
And of course Kathleen Passidomo, who will carry Big Insurance’s water tomorrow to the cheers of their well paid lobbyists.