My New York colleague, Jonathan Wilkofsky, not long ago wrote a third edition to his book about appraisal, The Law and Procedure of Insurance Appraisal. If the appraisal cases in Florida and Colorado keep up at their frantic pace of publication, he is certainly going to have a fourth edition in the near future. A recent Florida case concerned the common issue of whether appraisal is appropriate to determine whether a roof can be repaired with matching shingles.1
This Florida case is one where the policyholder assigned the claim rights to a construction vendor. The vendor filed suit and argued that the matter was one for the court to determine through a declaratory judgment. State Farm moved to compel the matter to appraisal.
The “trial court found that the determination of whether State Farm would be required to pay for matching shingles and/or an entire new roof was a coverage question requiring ‘an immediate need for declaratory judgment action. . . .’” The appellate court reversed following Florida precedent:
[T]he Florida Supreme Court held that ‘causation is a coverage question for the court when an insurer wholly denies that there is a covered loss and an amount-of-loss question for the appraisal panel when an insurer admits that there is a covered loss, the amount of which is disputed.’ Here, State Farm conceded that there was a covered loss.
….an insurer is entitled to enforce a policy appraisal provision where it has not wholly denied coverage. See First Protective Ins. Co. v. Colucciello, 276 So. 3d 456 (Fla. 5th DCA 2019) (holding that where insurer paid claims for mold damage and other interior damage to insureds’ home, but declined to pay for certain interior damages to home, dispute was one of ‘amount of the loss’; insurer entitled to compel appraisal); Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London, ICAT Syndicate 4242 v. Sorgenfrei, 278 So. 3d 930, 931 (Fla. 5th DCA 2019) (holding that where insurer admitted coverage for storm damage to insureds’ home, but argued that loss did not meet required deductible, insurer entitled to compel appraisal pursuant to policy terms; coverage was not wholly denied).
The bottom line is that appraisal in Florida is liberally granted so long as there is not a complete denial.
Thought For The Day
For myself, for a long time… maybe I felt inauthentic or something, I felt like my voice wasn’t worth hearing, and I think everyone’s voice is worth hearing. So if you’ve got something to say, say it from the rooftops.
1 State Farm Florida Ins. Co. v. Speed Dry, Inc., No. 5D18-3581, — So.3d — (Fla. 5th DCA Apr. 3, 2020).