Under Florida law, insurance companies must act in “good faith” when addressing and resolving an insurance claim made against a policy. However, in many cases, insurance companies fail to do this. Through a Florida bad faith claim, state law provides policyholders with an avenue to seek restitution if they believe that an insurance company has engaged in bad faith practices when attempting to resolve a claim.
Bad faith claims arise if an insurance company breaches its duty to recognize a claim, investigate a claim promptly, respond appropriately to communication requests, act efficiently, or offer valid reasons for a delay or denial. There are generally two types of Florida bad faith claims, first-party and third-party claims. First-party claims occur when an insurance company has a contractual duty to pay benefits to its policyholder. Whereas, third-party coverage protects the policyholder in cases where they may be liable for injuries and damages to a third-party.
Under the law, policyholders who are asserting a bad faith claim must provide the insurance company with a notice of the statutory violation. After receiving the notice, the law provides the insurance company with an opportunity to cure the violation, by paying the claimant’s damages. If the company cures the violation within the time frame, the bad faith claim becomes irrelevant. However, if the company fails to respond, the courts will presume that the plaintiff’s assertion is true.
In a recent opinion, a Florida appeals court addressed a bad faith claim homeowners filed against their insurance company. In that case, the homeowners’ property suffered damage after Hurricane Irma. The property owners filed a claim with their insurance company, and the company assessed the homeowners’ losses as a little over $3,000. The homeowners argued that this was vastly inadequate, and they provided the company with an adjustor’s estimate of their actual losses. Pursuant to the policy terms, the insurance company began the appraisal process.
The homeowners filed a civil remedy notice (CRN) against the company, contending that the company failed to resolve the claim in good faith. In support of their claim, the homeowners argued that they provided the insurance company with valid proof of their losses; however, the insurance company failed to assess the claim appropriately. The insurance company argued that the CRN did not include a specific amount necessary to cure the violation; therefore, their appraisal process constituted an appropriate corrective action. However, the appellate court reasoned that even if a policy provision provides the insurance company an opportunity to conduct an appraisal before a lawsuit, that condition does not absolve its duty to evaluate and resolve a claim fairly. In this case, the court found that the plaintiffs could proceed with a bad faith claim against their insurance provider.
Has a Florida Insurance Company Unlawfully Denied or Delayed Your Claim?
If you or someone you know is facing challenges effectuating the terms of your insurance policy, contact the experienced Florida insurance dispute attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert Dixon. Our law firm attorneys have extensive experience handling complex injury claims against at-fault parties and their insurance companies. Through our representation, our clients have recovered compensation for losses related to car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, defective products, and incidents of medical malpractice. Contact our office at 877-499-4878, to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm.