Check the mailing address on your policy and double check it again to make sure it is accurate. That is the best advice I can give after reading a recent Florida appellate court case involving a policy cancellation notice the insurer mailed to its insured.1 The address shown in the insurance policy for the mailing address can be used as sufficient notice for the insurer when communicating things like a cancellation of the policy. What if the mailing address on the policy has a mistake in it? According to this recent case, the law will look at it as sufficient notice of cancellation.
In Rodriguez, the policyholder’s mailing address did not contain his apartment number; so there was a question whether he received the policy cancellation notice. The case involved a liability policy where there was no apartment number included on the application for insurance. The address on the application was the same one on the face of the policy and where the insurer had proof of mailing the policy cancellation. The insurer’s underwriting file even contained a property appraiser’s document that revealed the correct address complete with apartment number.
Despite this fact, the Court held that the insurer’s proof of mailing the policy cancellation notice to the mailing address on the policy was sufficient notice of cancellation. Florida Statute §627.728(5) was cited by the court in support of its opinion, which states:
United States proof of mailing or certified or registered mailing of notice of cancellation, of intention not to renew, or of reasons for cancellation, or of the intention of the insurer to issue a policy by an insurer under the same ownership or management, to the first-named insured at the address shown in the policy shall be sufficient proof of service.
The relevant part of the insurance policy provided:
If we decide not to renew or continue this policy, we will mail notice to you at the address shown in our records. Notice will be mailed at least 45 days before the end of the policy period.
Assuming other laws and regulations regarding cancellation are met then under the rationale of this decision, notice of cancellation is sufficient if sent to the address on the policy. It seems obvious then that we better check our policies to make sure a simple thing like the mailing address is accurate.
Importantly, as we approach hurricane season, it is a great time to review our insurance policies to ensure that coverage is in place, information is accurate and up-to-date, and that the valuation of the property is accurate. A little time spent on the front end before a loss occurs can go a long way. Be prepared!