SB 1008-Relating to Public Records/Injured or Deceased Employee/Department of Financial Services
On Monday, April 3rd, SB 1008, by Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) was heard before the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance and passed unanimously by a vote of 8 yeas to 0 nays. AIF stood in support of this bill.
This bill would exempt private and personal identifying information of an injured worker or deceased employee from public record. Currently, this information is open to the public and often times injured workers are inundated with outreach from attorneys wanting to take on their cases immediately after filing their claim.
SB 1008 will now go to the Senate Committee on Governmental Oversight and Accountability to be heard.
AIF SUPPORTS protecting the private information of injured or deceased employees.
SB 1218-Relating to Property Repair
On Monday, April 3rd, SB 1218, by Senator Gary Farmer (D-Fort Lauderdale), was heard by the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance and passed by a vote of 6 yeas to 2 nays. AIF stood in opposition of this bill.
During committee SB 1218 was amended and now provides for the regulation of water restoration providers, prohibits one-way attorney fees from being used in rate making calculations, and prohibits managed repair and preferred provider arrangements. While this bill aims to provide for a solution to assignment of benefits (AOB), it actually compounds the problem by further entrenching special interests, such as restoration companies who, take AOBs from policyholders, effectively stripping them of their benefits. In addition, it legitimizes the use of the one-way attorney fee statute for third party vendors, something that even the Florida Supreme Court has said was never the intent. Rather, the statute was meant to protect policyholders.
SB 1218 will move on to the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries for its next hearing.
AIF OPPOSES reforms to the assignment of benefits (AOB) process that will NOT protect consumers against these abuses.
SB 1582-Relating to Workers’ Compensation Insurance
On Monday, April 3rd, SB 1582, by Senator Rob Bradley (R-Orange Park), was heard before the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance and passed by a vote of 7 yeas to 1 nay. AIF stood in opposition to this bill.
This legislation seeks to address the issues within Florida’s Workers’ Compensation law that have deemed the law unconstitutional, specifically the issue of rate increases, attorney fees, claimant benefits, etc. While AIF applauds Senator Bradley for his hard work on this delicate issue, we are confident that there is a solution that will address all aspects of the workers’ compensation system in Florida so that Floridians can avoid unnecessary, costly and time consuming litigation and receive the benefits they need if injured at work as quickly as possible.
SB 1582 will move on to the Senate Committee on Appropriations for its next hearing.
AIF OPPOSES this piece of legislation as it does not adequately address the rising cost of workers’ compensation rates on Florida’s employers due to increased costs of attorney fees.
Please see below statement from our President & CEO, Tom Feeney, regarding the bills above in today’s Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance meeting:
AIF on Assignment of Benefits, Workers’ Compensation & Insurance Rates Legislation
Tallahassee, Fla. – The Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) today released the following statement on behalf of its President & CEO Tom Feeney regarding Senate Bill 1218, by Senator Gary Farmer, relating to Property Repair; Senate Bill 1582, by Senator Rob Bradley, relating to Workers’ Compensation Insurance; Senate Bill 1008, by Senator Keith Perry, relating to Public Records/Injured or Deceased Employee/Department of Financial Services; as well as Senate Bill 1684, by Senator Farmer, relating to Insurance Rates. These bills were today heard in the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee, their first committee of reference.
“AIF supports legislation that addresses cost drivers in our state’s property insurance market, as well as legislation that helps restore a stable, self-executing and affordable system for injured workers.
“While we appreciate the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee for hearing legislation today that addresses Assignment of Benefits (AOB) and workers’ compensation, AIF believes SB 1218 actually takes the property insurance marketplace backwards, while SB 1582 don’t go far enough. Further, AIF does not support SB 1684, which attempts to change the rate-making process for litigation, resulting in Florida businesses having to settle everything, even the most frivolous of lawsuits, or jeopardize capital needed to pay claims in the result of a hurricane. In fact, the Senate’s own staff analysis recognizes that SB 1684 will likely lead to an increase in insurance rates.
“Bad actors across Florida are creating unnecessary litigation over property water damage and auto glass repair that’s taking benefits from Florida policyholders while at the same time making their insurance premiums skyrocket. AOB abuse must be stamped out for the sake of Florida’s property insurance market, which in turn will help relieve Florida homeowners and business owners from the rising cost of litigation by unscrupulous lawyers and vendors.
“The same goes for our state’s workers’ compensation system. While AIF supports SB 1008, which addresses one component of abuses faced by Florida’s employers by exempting public records relating to injured or deceased workers, AIF believes there is still more to be done to make Florida’s workers’ compensation system whole again. Floridians deserve a workers’ compensation system that works to their benefit, not to the benefit of trial lawyers. Under AIF’s ‘Florida Workers’ Compensation Strategic Task Force,’ the business community came together on comprehensive solutions that would protect the rights of employers and employees. We need a complete set of measures that address all aspects of the workers’ compensation system in Florida so that Floridians can avoid unnecessary, costly and time consuming litigation and receive the benefits they need if injured at work as quickly as possible.
“AOB and workers’ compensation are must-fix issues this session, and AIF looks forward to continuing the thoughtful discussions with our state’s leaders on how we can relieve these pressures that are negatively impacting Florida’s families and businesses.”
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