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Court Finds in Favor of Plaintiff in Florida Insurance Coverage Dispute

Recently, a Florida appellate court issued an opinion in an insured’s appeal of a circuit court’s final order granting her insurance company’s motion to dismiss her claim for bad faith. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff filed a claim with her insurance company for damages to her home from a hurricane. The homeowner claims that, despite admitting the loss was covered, the insurance company “grossly undervalued the claim” and “refused to negotiate the damages.” An appraisal panel found that the damages the woman claimed were appropriate, further supporting the woman’s contentions against the company.

Abiding by the condition precedent to bringing a bad faith action, the woman filed a civil remedy notice (CRN) with the Department of Financial Services (DFS) and the insurer. Within sixty days of the DFS’s acceptance of the CRN, the company did not pay damages. Thus, the homeowner argued that the company committed bad faith in adjusting her claim. The insurance company argued that the notice was ineffective because the CRN misidentified the insurer. The homeowner appealed a circuit court’s ruling in favor of the insurance company, arguing that the company waived their argument by not raising it in its response to the CRN.

On appeal, the homeowner argued that the insurance company never claimed that the incorrect identification caused it any prejudice. Instead, the plaintiff claimed that the insurance company simply denied the claim and argued that the loss did not exceed the policy’s deductible, without attempting a cure. Second, the company had actual notice of the CRN within the cure period and responded to the notice. Next, the company waived any misnomer defects by timely responding without any objections. Finally, the company’s failure to note the misnomer in its CRN response, and failure to bring the defect to her attention, warrants the application of estoppel principles. The insurance company argued that the plaintiff’s claim failed to satisfy the condition precedents because it was filed against another company, the CRN was legally insufficient, and the company could not cure the defect.

Under Florida Statutes Section 624.155(3)(a), the insured must provide the relevant department and insurer with 60 days’ written notice of the violation as a condition precedent to filing insurance bad faith claims. However, a party’s rights can be waived voluntarily or through inference. Courts have found that an insurer can waive compliance by responding to a CRN without challenging the alleged defect.

In this case, the policyholder failed to satisfy the condition precedent to filing a bad faith action against her insurance provider. However, the insurance company waived the condition precedent by not raising the misnomer in its response to the CRN. The insurance company disputed the CRN based on the merits but did not address the misidentification. Therefore, the company waived its rights to dismiss the case based on the misnomer.

Has Your Insurance Provider Engaged in Bad Faith?

If you or someone you love has been injured and is encountering difficulties with an insurance company, contact the attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada, P.A. The attorneys at our office have extensive experience handling a wide variety of complex Florida insurance disputes. We understand the barriers that insurance companies pose to accident victims, and work tirelessly to overcome these challenges on behalf of our clients. Through our representation, we have successfully recovered substantial amounts of compensation related to car, truck, and bus accidents, premises liability lawsuits, medical malpractice claims, and other personal injury matters. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our firm.

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