Although it affects just one of the top five major insurance underwriters in the state, a bill is heading to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott that would prevent property and vehicle insurance companies from discriminating against policyholders who own firearms.
S.B. 424 was introduced by state Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, just before Thanksgiving last year, and passed the House Tuesday by a 74-44 margin. It had previously rolled through the Senate by a 36-3 margin.
The bill consider it an unfair discriminatory practice by an insurance company if it refuses to issue, renew or cancel a policy, or charge an unfair rate based on the lawful ownership, possession or use of a firearm or ammunition by the applicant or anyone affected by the policy. It also would prohibit insurance companies from disclosing the lawful ownership or possession of firearms of those affected by the policy without anyone affected by that policy opting in to allow such disclosure.
It does not, however, prohibit an insurer from charging a supplemental premium when a separate rider is requested, to insure a firearm or firearm collection.
A survey of the top five insurance underwriters conducted by the Office of Insurance Regulation last month showed only one took into account firearm ownership when it came to policies, according to records filed with the Legislature.
It is not clear how the new legislation would affect existing law that has similar language, according to the Senate’s Appropriations committee.
Locally, state Reps. Mark Danish and Janet Cruz — both Democrats — voted against the bill. Local representation in both the House and Senate from the Republican side all voted for it.