Francisco Garcia

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Have Something to Say About Citizens’ Proposed 2016 Rate Changes for Commercial Property and Homeowners Policies? Here’s Your Chance

If you happen to be at or near the Florida Senate Office Building at the State Capitol Building this morning, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (FOIR) is conducting a public hearing in Room 401 at 9:00 AM to discuss Citizens’ proposed 2016 rate changes. Whether the rate increases or decrease, the proposed changes would … Continue Reading

Carrier’s Response to Letters of Representation by Florida Public Adjusters – Informative or Unfair Claims Handling Practice?

I was discussing a property insurance claim with a colleague a few weeks ago when he mentioned a letter that was sent to an insured from the insurance carrier shortly after their public adjuster submitted his letter of representation. The letter suggested that the insured review the public adjuster’s contract and fee structure to make … Continue Reading

Bad Faith and Citizens Property Insurance Corporation

A little over seven months have passed since the Supreme Court of Florida heard oral arguments from the attorneys for Citizens Property Insurance Corporation and Perdido Condominium Association. For those readers who are not familiar with what lead to the issue coming before the state’s supreme court, the case stems from a decision by Florida’s … Continue Reading

Rescission Of Coverage When Misrepresentation In Policy Application Is Not Material To Acceptance Of Risk

Often, when a property insurance claim is reported (even one undisputedly covered) one of the first things many carriers will do is review the application for the policy to see if the insured answered questions either incorrectly or incompletely. This is because Section 627.409 of the Florida Statute allows insurers, in certain limited circumstances, to … Continue Reading

Grandson Residing on Property Was an “Insured” for Purposes of Policy’s “Intentional Loss” Exclusion

In property insurance coverage disputes, whether or not someone is considered an “Insured” depends on a variety of factors. The first step is to look to the language of the governing insurance policy to see how an “Insured” is defined. Often, however, the answer to this question turns on the facts surrounding any given claim … Continue Reading

Questions “Of Great Public Importance” Certified to Florida Supreme Court Regarding FIGA’s Obligation to Homeowners with Sinkhole Claims – Part 2

In my previous blog post, I gave shared an overview of the facts surrounding Florida Insurance Guaranty Association v. De La Fuente,1 which lead Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal (2nd DCA) to certify two unique questions involving FIGA’s liability in sinkhole claims as being "of great public importance." Part 2 of this blog series … Continue Reading

Questions “Of Great Public Importance” Certified to Florida Supreme Court Regarding FIGA’s Obligation to Homeowners with Sinkhole Claims – Part 1

Suffering a sinkhole loss is already difficult enough, but for those homeowners with a claim being handled by FIGA, the process can often become even more complicated. This can occur when the terms of the insurance contract issued by the original, now insolvent, insurance carrier arguably conflict with FIGA’s duties and obligations under the Florida … Continue Reading

Appellate Court Rejects Insurance Carrier’s Argument (Again) that Insured “Concealed” Material Fact By Not Providing Sinkhole Report

A while back, my colleague, Shane Smith, wrote about a case, Herrera v. Tower Hill Preferred Insurance Company,1 where Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal considered – and then rejected – Tower Hill’s claim that its insured had violated the policy’s “Concealment or Fraud” and “Duties After Loss” provision by not disclosing their sinkhole expert’s … Continue Reading

Question of Whether Insured Waived Appraisal Should Focus on Conduct After Coverage Has Been Admitted

Recently, Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal affirmed an order compelling Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) to participate in an appraisal of a policyholder’s sinkhole claim.1 The insureds had originally filed suit against Homewise Preferred Insurance Company in 2010, after Homewise denied coverage. But in 2012, FIGA notified the insureds that it was assuming the … Continue Reading

Court Finds Burden of Proof For Sinkhole Loss Was Improperly Placed On Homeowner

Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal recently reversed final judgment against a homeowner and remanded for a retrial after a jury was instructed that the insured had to prove the damages to his home were caused by a sinkhole. The case, Mejia v. Citizens Property Insurance Corporation,1 stemmed from an insurance claim brought by a … Continue Reading

Regulators Approve Even More Takeouts from Citizens Property – Including 50,000 to Newly Licensed Anchor Property & Casualty

Another 182,000 insurance policies have been approved by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (“OIR”) to be transferred to private insurers, (commonly referred to as “takeout” companies), in 2015 as part of the state’s ongoing effort to reduce the number of policies handled by Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. While it is unlikely that all will … Continue Reading

“You Want What!?” – Why Insurance Companies Must Provide Clear Explanation Behind Document Requests

If you have ever had an insurance claim or negotiated a loss on behalf of a property owner, you would probably agree that one of the most frustrating aspects of the claims investigation process is the virtually endless set of documents requested from the insurance company. Finding and sending all the documents can take days, … Continue Reading

Heritage Insurance Taking Over More Than Two-Thousand Commercial Residential Policies From Citizens – Is Your Policy One of Them?

If you’re an insured with a commercial residential policy issued by Citizens Property Insurance, or if you’re assisting an insured with a claim under one of these policies, it is important to know the answer to the question above. Why? It will make a big difference in terms of which insurance carrier a loss should … Continue Reading

Will Legislative Intent Play Crucial Role in Florida Supreme Court’s Decision Regarding Citizens Bad Faith Immunity?

One of the many questions faced by the Florida Supreme Court is whether the lawmakers who drafted the statutory scheme which created Citizens Property Insurance Corporation intended to grant the insurance carrier immunity from liability for bad faith causes of actions. Not surprisingly, the issue came up during oral argument last week when Perdido Sun … Continue Reading

Florida Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument on Citizens’ Claim of “Sovereign Immunity” in First-Party Bad Faith Actions

Earlier this year, the Florida Supreme Court agreed to review a First District Court of Appeal order which held that "Citizens’ immunity does not extend to the ‘willful tort’ of failing to attempt in good faith to settle claims as provided by section 624.155, Florida Statutes."1 On Tuesday, October 7th, both Citizens and the insured, … Continue Reading

Texas Appellate Court: Alleged Fabrication of Photographs Did Not Warrant Million Dollar and “Death Penalty” Sanctions Against Insured

Regardless of whether you’re the plaintiff or defendant in an insurance dispute, fabricating or otherwise altering evidence can have some very serious consequences. Earlier this summer, the Sixth District Texas Court of Appeals issued a memorandum opinion involving two of the most severe sanctions parties can face under Texas law for such misconduct – monetary … Continue Reading

Federal Judge Finds “Reckless” and “Grossly Negligent” Conduct By BP Led to 2010 Oil Spill

The almost 4-year long court battle surrounding the BP Oil Spill seems to have taken a turn for the worst for BP. Last week, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana determined the London-based company’s gross negligence and willful misconduct led to millions of gallons of oil being spilled into the Gulf … Continue Reading

Florida Public Adjusters (and Apprentices) – Make Sure Your $50K Surety Bond Is Filed & “Unimpaired”

It’s no secret that public adjusters in Florida are subject to a number of strict rules and regulations. All it takes is a quick glance at Section 626.854 of the Florida Statutes and you’ll see that state law regulates almost every aspect of a public adjuster’s profession – from the days of the week to … Continue Reading

California Earthquake Damage Could Exceed $1 Billion

A state of emergency was declared in Southern Napa County on Sunday after the strongest earthquake to strike Northern California in 25 years hit in the early hours of the morning. Registering a 6.0 magnitude, it is the largest trembler in the area since the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake caused $6 billion of property damage … Continue Reading

Nationwide’s “Brand New Belongings”- Cool Commercial, But What Does It Cover?

Like me, you’ve probably seen Nationwide Insurance’s widely aired commercial touting their service, "Brand New Belongings." The eye-catching ads feature a sleek Cat-Women-like heroine coming to the rescue in every homeowner’s worst nightmare situations, stealthily following behind home-invading thieves to replace the items they steal, or swinging into a fire-damaged apartment to switch out smoke-damaged … Continue Reading

Insured Failed to Demonstrate Feng Shui Expense Was Within Scope of Policy’s Coverage

A federal court in California was recently presented with an interesting question: was an insured entitled to recover the costs associated with retaining a feng shui consultant? The case, Patel v. American Economy Insurance Company, et al.,1 stemmed from a fire that began in the basement of a commercial building where the insured, Namrata Patel, … Continue Reading

“Pollutant” Exclusions in Property Insurance Policies, Part 3

While the word “pollutant” may be defined by an English dictionary, the meaning of the term is frequently litigated in cases where coverage is denied under a policy’s “pollutant” exclusion clause. Some believe that the clause provides an absolute exclusion for damages caused by any sort of pollutant, including asbestos, lead, or fumes from Chinese … Continue Reading
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