The Florida Advisory Commission on Arson Prevention was one of the first organizations I prepared a public presentation for while I worked with Paul Butler in the early 1980’s. Paul gave a speech about wrongful steps insurance adjusters should not make during a fire loss investigation and those where arson was suspected. One of those was wrongful actions was demanding a policyholder sign a Reservations of Rights or Non-Waiver Agreement before starting an investigation of a first-party insurance claim.
Paul’s logic was sound. The insurance policy does not contain signing such agreements in the Duties After Loss section of the policy. Second, Florida insurance saw already covered the issue:
627.426 Claims administration.—
(1) Without limitation of any right or defense of an insurer otherwise, none of the following acts by or on behalf of an insurer shall be deemed to constitute a waiver of any provision of a policy or of any defense of the insurer thereunder:
(a) Acknowledgment of the receipt of notice of loss or claim under the policy.
(b) Furnishing forms for reporting a loss or claim, for giving information relative thereto, or for making proof of loss, or receiving or acknowledging receipt of any such forms or proofs completed or uncompleted.
(c) Investigating any loss or claim under any policy or engaging in negotiations looking toward a possible settlement of any such loss or claim.
I was surprised to learn that a number of insurers are wrongfully demanding Hurricane Michael policyholders sign Non-Waiver Agreements or Reservation of Rights letters before initiation of their investigation. A copy of such an agreement is attached.
This is a wrongful claims practice. Insurance companies should be immediately investigating these Hurricane Michael claims and providing money to their customers as soon as possible.
Sometimes, these situations occur from out of state adjusters not familiar with Florida law. Some claims departments do not understand the difference between first-party claims investigation and third-party claims investigation which may require these types of filings by insurance companies.