Recently, an appellate court issued its opinion in a bad faith claim homeowners filed against their home insurance company. According to the court’s opinion, the homeowners filed a claim with their insurance company after suffering losses from Hurricane Irma. The insurance company investigated the claim and determined that the homeowners’ loss was $3,013.20. In response, the homeowners provided the insurance company with their public adjustor’s estimate of their losses. According to the insurance agreement, the insurer began the appraisal process. The policy contained provisions that either party could demand an appraisal if the parties failed to agree to the amount of loss. Further, the policy included a provision that homeowners could not file a lawsuit unless the parties fully complied with the policy’s terms.
The homeowners filed a civil remedy notice of insurer’s violation (CRN), alleging that the insurance company breached its duty to settle the claims in good faith. They argued that the company was given notice of the severity of the homeowners’ losses, and the opportunity to inspect the property. The homeowners contended that, despite this opportunity, the insurer failed to identify the full extent of losses. As such, they filed a complaint based on Florida’s bad faith statute.
Under Florida Statutes, section 624.155, policyholders maintain a civil remedy for an insurance company’s bad faith. The claim applies in situations that an insurer failed to act reasonably, honestly, and in good faith to settle claims. Florida law requires plaintiffs to provide the Florida Department of Financial Services and the insurer with written notice of a violation. The CRN notice must include specific statutory violations, relevant facts and policy provisions, and a statement asserting the plaintiff’s right to pursue a civil claim. The statuary requirements to a Florida bad faith insurance claim require the claimant establish that the insurer was liable for coverage, the policy holder’s damages, and compliance with the notice requirements. The statute does not bar an insured from sending a CRN before a determination of liability or damages.
In this case, the company argued that the CRN did not include the amount necessary to cure the bad faith. Therefore the company’s appraisal process constituted an appropriate corrective action. However, the court found that even if a policy requires appraisal before a lawsuit, it is not a condition precedent to the insurance company fulfilling its duty to fairly evaluate the claim and deny coverage or offer an appropriate amount. Therefore, the court concluded that the company’s appraisal process and meager payment award did not cure a violation of their failure to settle the claim in good faith.
Are You Experiencing Difficulty Settling a Florida Insurance Claim?
If you or someone you know is dealing with a Florida insurance dispute, contact the dedicated attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada, P.A. The attorneys at our law firm have years of experience handling cases involving complex insurance dispute cases. We possess the skills, resources, and tools to handle claims against big insurance companies. The attorneys at our office can review your policy and help you take the steps necessary to ensure that you receive the appropriate payment for your claims. We handle personal injury and insurance disputes stemming from car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, defective products, and many other incidents. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm.