For the second straight term, a bill has been filed in the Florida Legislature designed to make changes to the well-settled legal principles that have successfully governed our state for many years and have held insurance carriers accountable when they act improperly.
When it comes to damage, few things are more expensive to replace than windows and sliding glass door systems. Almost every condominium unit has at least one sliding glass door system, and most have more than one. Widespread damage from earthquakes or hurricanes can prove extremely costly for an association and lead to substantial assessments if not properly insured.
Insurance companies guard claims files more closely than almost anything else. Generally, an insurer claims that the contents of its claim file are protected from disclosure by the work product privilege. While this position has found some support in appellate rulings, many insurers misunderstand these rulings and believe that anything they wish to call part of the claim file does not have to be disclosed to the policyholder.
During the Congressional hearings, Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said:
If this is like other catastrophic failures of technological systems in modern history, whether it was the sinking of the Titanic, Three Mile Island, or the loss of the Challenger, we will likely discover that there was a cascade of failures and technical and human and regulatory errors.
It appears that BP and others involved in the current oil spill may be taking their cues from insurance carriers. Insurers have always hedged their bets by saying that they would pay “legitimate claims” after disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Northridge Earthquake. This is a brilliant public relations strategy. It allows top executives to go on television and tell the world that the company cares and will do whatever it can to make people whole again. It leaves the general public with a warm and fuzzy feeling of security, even when the insurer has absolutely no intention of promptly and fully paying the full amount of damages owed.
Continue Reading BP Promises To Pay “Legitimate Claims” But Leaves Room For Maneuvering
Our firm has been receiving calls from a large number of Florida condominium associations over the past few days regarding the increasing problems associated with the oil spill that is plaguing the gulf coast. I have a personal connection to this growing crisis. I spent a large portion of my life in Destin, Florida, and part of my family still lives and works in the area. Late last night, I flew to the panhandle to see what our firm could do to help.
In Florida, discovery in breach of contract actions usually centers around the mystical “claim file” which insurers guard more closely than their first born child. As most who read this blog already know, the “claim file” has been held to be generally protected by Florida courts, and usually undiscoverable in a breach of contract action.
One of the most daunting tasks in submitting an insurance claim is the production of documents….…
Continue Reading The Cooperation Clause and Document Production: A Condominium Association’s Difficult Task
While it is true that a policyholder’s failure to cooperate with the investigation of a claim can result in a denial of coverage, it is important to note that the cooperation clause was not intended to enslave the policyholder and leave them at the mercy of a carrier’s overly burdensome and unreasonable requests….…
Continue Reading The Limits Of An Insured’s Obligations To Cooperate
“In the event of loss or damage, we will adjust the loss with you.” This is a common phrase in property insurance policies, but an important phrase nonetheless. The key word in this sentence is the word with. The insurer will adjust the loss with an insured, not the insurer will adjust the loss for the insured. While the word with may not seem too important at first glance, this phrase can play a very important role in determining whether an insurer or insured may have breached the policy.