(Note: This Guest Blog is by Kelly Kubiak, an attorney with Merlin Law Group in the Tampa, Florida, Office).

Some insurance companies feel that although they may not have investigated a Florida loss promptly during the time period Florida suffered successive hurricanes, the companies have an excuse due to the vast amount of claims.

At first this seems reasonable, but when one considers the individual insurance company, it may not be so.

Prior to 2004, Federated National Insurance Company ("Federated") had 2 adjusters handling property claims and no written standards for them.

Federated relied on independent adjusting companies to adjust its losses, and it selected the independent adjusting companies by word of mouth. Federated did not check their qualifications.

As you can imagine, when the hurricanes hit Florida in 2004 and 2005, BOOM!!!!! The insurance company was receiving approximately 4,000 calls a day and was handling five times the claims it handled prior to 2004. Federated had less adjusters/supervisors per claim. Go figure, sometimes the independent adjusters didn’t know which Federated claims employees were assigned to the file.

When did Federated realize there was a problem? Why didn’t it realize there was a problem earlier than 2004? When did anyone look at the Florida claims handling statutes to make sure Federated was complying with same?

When I addressed these issues with one of Federated’s attorney, I was told these facts would never establish a claims handling violation. I truly believe the attorney believes this, but I completely disagree.

The reality is that the insurance company attorneys are coming up with many creative arguments to avoid facing a jury. They argue meaningless technicalities so that no homeowner can properly fill in the Civil Remedy Notice form necessary to file a claims handling lawsuit. Most courts have ruled against the insurance companies’ arguments, but not all.

Hopefully, a jury will be able to decide whether Federated’s excuses are valid.