The Florida House made it illegal Tuesday for insurance companies to deny coverage or increase rates if a customer owns a gun -- much to the delight of gun advocacy groups across the state and country.
The bill, SB 424, originally introduced by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, made its final stop in the Florida House, passing by a 77-44 vote.
On top of prohibiting an increase in rates, the legislation would prohibit insurance companies from disclosing the lawful ownership or possession of firearms of an insurance applicant, the insured, or household member of the applicant or insured to a third party or an affiliated entity of the insurer, unless the insurer discloses to the applicant a specific need to disclose the information,
The applicant must expressly consent to the disclosure or the disclosure must be necessary to quote, continue coverage, or adjust a claim.
Some automobile and property insurance companies enforced higher rates on gun owners because they believed there would be a greater risk of claims, but those in support of the bill maintained such practices infringed on citizens Second Amendment rights.
Several Democrats spoke out against the bill, questioning whether insurers really ask about firearm ownership.
But the bills House sponsor, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, said the practice is too much, even if there's only one case.
"How much discrimination based on the exercise of a constitutional right is tolerable?" Gaetz asked.
The bills passage won the attention of the National Rifle Association, which stood firm behind the legislation.
On Wednesday, the NRA instructed its members to contact Sen. Lee and Rep. Gaetz to tell them thank you for standing up [for] gun owners.
The bill now heads to Gov. Rick Scotts desk for signing.
Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.