FLORIDA HOUSE BILL 743 (BAINTER – 1997)
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Florida House Bill 743, relating to auditing, civil immunity, bankruptcy, and credit property insurance, was introduced on March 4, 1997 by Representative Stan Bainter. (See Exhibit A, #2)
House Bill 743 was considered in two House Committees: 1) Financial Services; and 2) Civil Justice and Claims. (See Exhibit A, #2) The measure was amended three times in the House and moved to the Senate for consideration on April 24, 1997. (Id.) While in the Senate, the Committees on Banking and Insurance, and Judiciary reviewed the measure. (Id.) House Bill 743 was Enrolled in the House on May 1, 1997 and presented to the Governor on May 14th. (Id.) The bill became Chapter 97-214 on May 30th without the Governor’s signature as it was not acted on within 15 days. (See Exhibit A, #1c and #2)
The House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services’ analysis of House Bill 743, as enacted, summarized the various provisions of the measure as follows:
Since 1991, all insurance companies licensed to do business in Florida have been required to file independently audited financial statements with the Department of Insurance (DOI) once a year. Under current law, an insurance company may not use the same accountant or the same partner in an accounting firm to prepare the independent audit for more than 5 consecutive years. The audit requirement is based on a National Association of Insurance Commissioners Model Rule, but the Model Rule allows an insurance company to use the same accountant for up to 7 consecutive years. The bill would conform this provision of the Florida law to the Model Rule.
Joint underwriting association are insurers of last resort created under state law, but they are not state agencies. Several joint underwriting associations and their officers, directors, employees, agents, and member insurers enjoy limited immunity from civil liability, but not the Florida [Automobile] Joint Underwriting Association (FJUA). The bill would provide limited immunity from civil liability for: the FJUA; its directors, agents, and employees; member insurers and their agents and employees; and the DOI and its employees. The immunity would apply to any actions taken in administering the FJUA law, but would not apply to any willful torts or breach of an insurance contract.
In recent years, alien (i.e., non-U.S.) insurers and reinsurers have been able to use the U.S. bankruptcy laws to avoid their obligations to U.S. insureds. The bill provides that a trust fund established in the U.S. by the insurer for its U.S. obligations will remain available despite a foreign bankruptcy proceeding.
Only an individual may hold a license to sell credit property insurance, while an entity may hold a license enabling several of its employees to sell credit life and disability insurance. The bill provides that an entity holding a credit life and disability insurance also holds a license for credit property insurance.
(See Exhibit A, #3b, page 1)