Consumer protection measures signed into Florida law

by | May 25, 2023

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 1185 into law, which tightens state law regarding consumer protection and commerce regulations.
  • The bill introduces provisions for insurers, public adjusters, check-cashing establishments, and crowdfunding campaigns.
  • It also tightens financial regulations for certain entities, including insurance agents and adjusting firms, and allows loan originators to work remotely under certain conditions.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 1185 (HB 1185) into law on Wednesday, implementing a series of provisions relating to consumer protection and commerce regulations.

One component of the bill reduces the time insurers have to cancel policies for reasons other than material misstatement or non-payment of premiums. It additionally revises laws related to public adjusters and requires additional disclosures and record-keeping for public adjusters.

Furthermore, the bill focuses on check-cashing establishments, mandating that vendors retain copies of payment methods and customer files, including photo identification and thumbprints if the amount of cashed legal tender exceeds $1,000.

In an effort to combat workers’ compensation fraud, HB 1185 prohibits check-cashing businesses from cashing corporate checks when the total amount of all checks cashed for each payee exceeds 200 percent of the payee’s workers’ compensation policy coverage.

Additionally, the bill places regulations upon disaster-related crowdfunding campaigns, requiring crowdfunding organizers to provide accounting records to the hosting platform that detail all donations received and expenses incurred during the campaign. Furthermore, the hosting platform is obligated to publish these accounting records on its website.

The crowdfunding portion of the bill received public endorsement by state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who made previous attempts to manage similar scams.

In 2021, he wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission requesting assistance in combatting fraudulent GoFundMe campaigns that emerged following the Surfside condo collapse in Miami.

“Every year we have worked to put consumers and policyholders first in Florida, especially following disasters,” said Patronis, shortly after the bill’s passage. “We learn something new from every storm, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, I made it clear that fraudulent activity on crowdfunding sites will not be tolerated and that we would put forth legislation to bring these scams to an end and protect consumers. We also worked to rein in unscrupulous public adjusters and ensure policyholders are protected and know their rights.

The bill further amends service agreements and distributed energy generation system disclosures to reflect the most recent updates to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Annuity Transactions Model Regulation. The measure provides an exception to the unearned premium reserve requirements for service agreement companies and revises solvency requirements for manufacturers who sell service warranties.

Financial regulations for certain entities have also been tightened, including changes to notification requirements for insurance agents and adjusting firms. Insurance agents are now required to notify the Department of Financial Services (DFS) of any changes to their contact information within five days of the change, rather than the previous 30-day requirement.

Adjusting firms are not subject to the same name disapproval standards as insurance agencies, but the new legislation does prohibit the use of certain words that could mislead customers into believing they are doing business with a governmental entity.

When the bill goes into effect, loan originators will be permitted to work remotely, so long as they meet certain criteria. Previously, mortgage brokers and lenders were required to maintain a physical office.

1 Comment

  1. Chris B.

    I’ll believe that when I see it actually happen. Tell him to go after the corrupted timeshare scams and the “oral representation clause” that allows timeshares to defraud millions of victims. The Florida AG is not doing anything to protect Americans from scams originating from Florida, which makes victims suspect Ms. Mooney is getting kickbacks. How many kickbacks does Desantis get from crooked industry?

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