Whether an insured can access an insurer’s claim file has often been addressed by Florida courts. Recently, a Florida appellate court followed other courts’ rulings in holding that an insured cannot obtain its insurer’s claim file.
In Homeowners Choice Property and Casualty Ins. Co. v. Avila,1 the insureds, Raul and Doxanne Avila (“the Avilas”), filed a claim for damage to their property with their insurance company, Homeowners Choice Property and Casualty Insurance Company (“Homeowners”). Homeowners made some payments on the claim, which the Avilas found to be insufficient to cover the damage to their property. The Avilas sued Homeowners for breach of contract.
During the litigation process, counsel for the Avilas served a request for production on Homeowners, seeking various documents related to the claim. While Homeowners produced some of the requested documents, it objected to others as work product privilege or “claim file privilege” and submitted a corresponding privilege log.
The trial court reviewed the withheld documents in camera and ordered that some documents be produced, as they did not fall under either of the listed privileges. The documents ordered to be produced were created prior to the date that the Avilas contested Homeowners’s payment on the claim.
The appellate court ruled that in first party breach of contract actions, such as the one at hand, an insurer’s claim file is not discoverable. However, the appellate court noted that no “claim file privilege” exists under Florida law.
The court’s decision mirrors many other prior rulings in Florida courts on the matter.
1 Homeowners Choice Property and Casualty Ins. Co. v. Avila, No. 3D17-465 (Fla. 3d DCA April 25, 2018).