New bill offers sweeping property insurance reforms

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A bill, referred to as a “homeowners’ bill of rights” due to its sweeping property insurance reforms was passed unanimously by the state House and is expected to be approved by the Senate on Friday. The bill extends the rate freeze for the state’s largest home insurer until January 2010; doubles maximum fines for insurers that violate state law; prohibits insurers from using arbitration panels; extends a provision that requires state approval before raising rates; and requires insurers to notify state regulators before dropping more than 10,000 homeowner policies in one year and requires insurers to use state-approved methods to predict the risk of hurricanes.

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