ORLANDO – Fred Karlinsky, co-chair of the insurance
regulatory and transactions practice at Greenberg Traurig, discussed noteworthy
insurance-related measures before the legislature as part of his presentation
at the recent Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund’s (FHCF) annual Participating
“Assignment of benefits (AOB) remains a major issue, and we
will see it addressed again next year,” Karlinsky told the Florida Record. This issue was also paramount in his presentation
at the workshop.
Specifically, Karlinksy discussed the adoption of the Own
Risk and Solvency Assessment (ORSA) and Corporate Governance Annual Disclosure
(CGAD) requirements, changes to the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. takeout
process, AOB and other measures. He also discussed the current state of some
potential AOB remedies, since some bills addressing the issue did not make it
out of the 2016 legislative session.
“An industry-backed measure that sought to address the
increased claims and lawsuits involving assigned benefits was not approved this
session amidst strong opposition by water remediators and trial attorneys,”
Karlinsky told workshop participants that the Senate’s
version of the bill would voided any agreement that assigns or transfers the
right to enforce post-loss benefits under a property insurance policy, while
the House bill would have included fewer restrictions on assignments.
The event marked the fund’s 16th annual
Participating Insurers’ Workshop.
“The purpose (of the workshop) is to educate our participating
insurers on their responsibilities to meet the FHCF reporting requirements and
provide relevant insurance-related information to all participants,” FHCF chief
operating officer Anne Bert told the Florida
In addition to the AOB bills, Karlinsky said other proposed
legislation that was not approved in the 2016 session included bills related to
prohibited insurance practices, drone liability, property insurance appraisal
umpires and bill addressing the filing of bad-faith actions. Karlinsky said the
drone liability legislation will also return in the 2017 session, and the
appraisal umpires may be addressed again.
In addition, Karlinsky covered the workers' compensation
cases before the Florida Supreme Court, including the decision in Castellanos v. Next Door Co. and its
ramifications and the issues raised in Westphal
v. city of St. Petersberg.
“In a long-awaited decision on April 28, 2016, the Florida
Supreme Court issued a decision that held the statutory fee schedule for
workers’ compensation was unconstitutional in Castellanos,” Karlinsky said. “The court said the issue for them
was really the ‘irrebuttable presumption’ of the statutory fee schedule. It
allowed for no deviations so claimants had no ability to challenge the
reasonableness (of a fee award) in a particular case or circumstance."
In light of this ruling, Karlinsky said lawmakers will have
to fix the constitutional issues. Until they do so, Karlinsky said the awarding
of attorney fees will be based on the 2003 version of the related statute. He
said the issue will be addressed in the 2017 legislative session.
On May 3, the JCC awarded $42,000 in fees to an attorney who
spent 120 hours securing nearly $9,000 in benefits in Diaz v. Palmetto General Hospital. Karlinsky said the court cited
the Castellanos case in its ruling in
“We were quite pleased with the attendance of nearly 200
participants,” Bert said. “This is an annual event, and we will be developing
next year’s agenda with timely topics.”