The Importance of Statutory Text and Policy Language in Florida Insurance Disputes

An appeals court recently issued an opinion stemming from a Florida car accident between an insured and an uninsured motorist. The insured purchased non-stacking uninsured motorist coverage from their insurance company. After suffering injuries in an accident with an uninsured motorist, the insured sought to receive benefits of a stacking coverage policy. The woman filed a lawsuit against the insurance company after the company refused to cover the woman under the more comprehensive policy.

The record indicates that the woman’s boyfriend purchased an insurance policy that provided bodily injury and uninsured motorist coverage up to $25,000 per person. During the renewal period, the boyfriend rejected the non-stacking coverage, and the Office of Insurance Regulation approved the form. The policy states that there is no coverage for an insured who sustains bodily injury while occupying a vehicle owned by the policyholder or any resident relative if it is not in the policyholder’s car—the policy applied to the woman and her boyfriend and their Ford pickup truck. The two suffered injuries while operating a motorcycle that the insurance company did not insure.

On appeal, the court reviewed the insurance policy by looking at its plain language. Generally, exclusion provisions are more strictly construed than coverage provisions and tend to be interpreted in favor of the policyholder. However, courts cannot rewrite contracts or add intentions or meaning that are not present. Ambiguities exist when a provision is open to more than one reasonable interpretation. A court cannot deem a contract ambiguous just because it is complex or requires an in-depth analysis.

Here, the court found that the form, renewal declaration, and non-stacking form unambiguously stated the policy and its limitations. The insured checked the appropriate box, which unambiguously excluded coverage. Further, if the parties chose a stacking policy, the insurance company would not have provided them with the non-stacking declaration. As such, the court found that neither the statutory text nor the policy language was ambiguous. The court ultimately reversed the trial court’s judgment.

Disputes between insurance companies and policyholders require a thorough and in-depth understanding of the interplay between personal injury and contract law. Those who suffer injuries in a Florida car accident should contact an attorney to discuss the best option for recovering damages for their injuries.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Car Accident?

If you or someone you know has suffered serious injuries or died in a Florida car accident, contact the dedicated attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada. The Florida injury lawyers at our firm have extensive experience successfully handling complex accident cases on behalf of our clients. We have the skills, resources, experience, and tools to navigate and overcome the challenges that these personal injury cases present. Our law firm handles Florida motor vehicle accident cases, premises liability claims, defective product complaints, and medical malpractice claims. Accident cases can be daunting and require negotiating with and litigating against teams of skilled attorneys. We provide our clients confidence, so they can focus on their healing while we focus on their recovery. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney on our team.

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