Florida Assignment of Benefits Legislation and Tort Reform

March 21, 2023

by Seth Maiman
AGSC Director of Public Affairs

The 60-day 2023 Florida Legislative Session runs from March 7-May 5. The state’s lawmakers will be considering several pieces of legislation that affect the auto glass business, principally regarding the Assignment of Benefits laws and tort reform/auto insurance reform.

Senator Linda Stewart has reintroduced her Assignment of Benefits bill (SB 1002) that has failed to move forward in the previous two years. Once again, the bill would prohibit glass and repair shops from offering an inducement to a customer for making an insurance claim for vehicle glass replacement or repair. But the new bill extends the prohibition on the inducement to include services for recalibration of an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS). Senator Stewart has also added provisions that prohibit policyholders (such as customers) from entering into an Assignment of Benefits for glass replacement or repair, including recalibration. In addition, the bill would ensure that businesses that calibrate or recalibrate ADAS associated with windshields are regulated under the Florida Motor Vehicle Repair Act, adding the ADAS-related service to the 19 listed prohibitions and requirements already contained in the Act, including a new one, requiring notice to the customer of the need for recalibration. SB 1002 has been assigned to the Banking and Insurance and the Commerce and Tourism Committees for handling. For text of the bill CLICK HERE.

Representative Phillip Griffits has introduced HB 541 that is similar to SB 1002, also prohibiting incentives to induce an Assignment of Benefits for windshield replacement and recalibration services as well as prohibiting policyholders from entering into an Assignment of Benefits for glass replacement or repair, including for recalibration of ADAS. Additionally, this bill would allow auto insurance companies to offer, but not require insureds to accept, a deductible of up to $250 for claims of “damage” to automotive windshield glass replacement or repair, and if there is a deductible in place, it would prohibit its application to cases where there was damage to the vehicle in addition to the windshield. HB 541 has been assigned to the Commerce Committee and was heard in the Banking & Insurance Subcommittee on March 14. The text of the bill can be found HERE.

HB 837 is a priority tort reform effort led by Governor DeSantis and legislative leaders that would make major changes to remedies under Florida’s civil justice system. It changes the state’s “pure” comparative negligence system to a “modified” comparative negligence system so that plaintiffs who are found to be more at fault for their own injuries than the defendant would not generally recover damages from the defendant. The bill makes numerous changes to the calculation of damages and liability and modifies the state’s “bad faith” framework for insurance companies. It is being considered by the Judiciary Committee and the text of the most recent committee substitute bill is HERE.

Another tort reform bill, SB 738, would place limits on judgements for punitive and compensatory damages for certain claims related to unlawful employment practices. For text of the bill CLICK HERE.

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