The issue whether Florida will join the majority of states recognizing an insurer’s duty of good faith at common law is squarely before the Florida Supreme Court. In Citizens Property Ins. Co. vs. Louis Bertot, the Third District Court of Appeal noted the issue before it:
"The first question presented is whether an insured may prosecute a common law claim for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing by an insurer based on the alleged failure of the insurer to investigate and assess the insured’s claim within a reasonable time. Such a claim is alleged by the homeowners to be an independent basis for recovery, one distinguishable from a statutory bad faith claim under Section 624.155(1)(b), Florida Statutes (2008). Citizens maintains that the “breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing” claim is merely a “disguised” statutory bad faith claim and that no such common law claim is recognized in Florida."
Later in the opinion, the Court noted the issues raised are currently before the Florida Supreme Court in another matter:
"[T]he United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has certified these questions to the Supreme Court of Florida pursuant to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.150(a). See Chalfonte Condo. Apartment Ass’n. v. QBE Ins. Corp., No. 08-10009, 2009 WL 580775, at *7 (11th Cir. Mar. 9, 2009) [21 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C1627a]. The Supreme Court has docketed the certified questions as QBE Insurance Corp. v. Chalfonte Condominium Apartment Ass’n., Case No. SC09-441."
QBE Insurance Corp. v. Chalfonte Condominium Apartment Ass’n., will be a landmark case in Florida. Mary Fortson and I have been working on an amicus brief on behalf of United Policyholders. My opinion is that it would not make sense for Florida law to not recognize the duty of good faith when every adjuster is trained from day one that insurers have such a duty. The duty of good faith and fair dealing is accepted as the most basic principal of an insurance company’s primary obligation in the insurance industry.
Why in the world would a judge say that a good faith duty does not exist? To do so would not only be legally wrong, it would be factually wrong as well.
We will file our amicus brief and post in here in a couple of weeks. The decision in this case and the Corban case in Mississsippi are going to be very significant to the rights of policyholders.