What’s in the New Florida Consumer Protection Bill to Empower and Safeguard Consumers? | Opportunity For All Floridians

What’s in the New Florida Consumer Protection Bill to Empower and Safeguard Consumers?

On May 25, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a comprehensive consumer protection bill (HB 1185 & SB 1398) that will enhance consumer rights and provide stronger safeguards. The bills were introduced by two Republican bill sponsors, Rep. Mike Giallombardo from Lee County and Senator Nick DiCeglie from Pinellas County. Both bills made their way through their legislative committee assignments with lots of amendments. Ultimately, the House version was accepted, passed a floor vote by the full legislative body and then signed by the governor. Let’s delve into the key provisions of this bill and explore how it can empower and benefit consumers. 

Public Adjusters: Fair Compensation and Clear Agreements

The bill addresses public adjusters, who assist individuals with insurance claims. It introduces provisions to limit excessive fees charged by public adjusters, ensuring that their compensation is reasonable and fair. Additionally, the bill emphasizes the importance of written agreements between public adjusters and policyholders, promoting clear communication and preventing misunderstandings. These measures provide consumers with better protection against unfair practices and establish a foundation of transparency.

Annuity Investments: Acting in the Best Interest of Consumers

Recognizing the significance of annuity investments, the bill incorporates regulations to protect consumers. It requires agents who sell annuity investments to act in the best interest of their clients, ensuring that the recommendations made are suitable for the consumer’s needs and financial goals. By prioritizing consumer interests, this provision safeguards individuals from potentially harmful or unsuitable investments. The bill also mandates training requirements for agents engaging in annuity sales, enhancing their expertise and knowledge to better serve consumers.

Insurance Provisions: Transparency and Fair Treatment

The bill introduces several measures to strengthen consumer protection in the insurance industry. It sets guidelines for adjusting firms and agents, ensuring compliance with regulations and promoting fair practices. The provisions prohibit the concealment of payments from third parties, safeguarding policyholders’ rights to transparent claim settlements. Additionally, the bill establishes clearer guidelines for hurricane insurance deductibles, specifying when they can be applied. This empowers consumers by ensuring fair treatment and preventing unexpected financial burdens during challenging times.

Mortgage Loans: Expanding Consumer Options

Recognizing the importance of a competitive mortgage market, the bill seeks to provide consumers with more choices. It expands the locations where mortgage lenders can conduct business, increasing accessibility and fostering a more competitive marketplace. Moreover, the bill outlines requirements for remote locations operated by licensees, ensuring that consumers receive the same protections regardless of the lender’s physical location. These measures offer consumers greater flexibility and help them find the mortgage terms that best suit their needs.

Protecting Consumers’ Financial Interests

The bill addresses money services businesses, introducing provisions to safeguard consumers’ funds. It prohibits certain businesses from cashing corporate checks that exceed specified limits, preventing potential misuse or fraudulent activities. By implementing such restrictions, consumers are protected from financial harm and potential scams. Additionally, the bill establishes guidelines for crowd-funding campaigns during disasters, ensuring transparency, accuracy, and cooperation with law enforcement. This fosters trust and allows individuals to contribute to legitimate causes with confidence.

Additionally, the bills include guardrails for crowd-funding campaigns. It sets guidelines to ensure transparency, accuracy, and cooperation with law enforcement during crowd-funding efforts related to disasters. This helps protect individuals from fraudulent campaigns and ensures that their donations are directed toward legitimate causes. By enhancing crowd-funding safeguards, the bill strengthens consumer trust and confidence in supporting worthy initiatives.

The Consumer Protection Bill (HB 1185) holds significant promise for strengthening consumer rights and ensuring fair treatment in various sectors. By addressing public adjusters, annuity investments, insurance provisions, mortgage loans, money services businesses, and crowd-funding campaigns, this bill aims to empower consumers and foster a more transparent marketplace. 

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