Most policies contain a “venue” or “statutory provision” condition. Usually, a “venue” condition reads along these lines:
This policy and any performance thereunder shall be construed with and governed by the laws of the State of Florida.
A “statutory provision” condition usually reads along these lines:
Any terms of this policy which are in conflict with the statutes of the State wherein the property is located are amended to conform to such statutes, except that in cases of conflict with applicable Federal law or regulation, such Federal law or regulation shall control the terms of the policy.
These conditions are meaningful. If a statute conflicts with a policy provision, the statute prevails. An insurer’s breach of the statute is tantamount to a breach of the contract. Seems pretty straightforward, right? Ah, if only insurance companies were straightforward. For example, try convincing an insurer, shy of litigation, that Section 627.70131 of the Florida Statutes (in particular subsection (5)(a)1) actually means something. Good luck with that. As another example, try convincing an insurer, shy of litigation, to pay policy limits pursuant to Section 627.702 of the Florida Statutes.2 Good luck with that. The examples could go on and on.
This blog is a wake-up call. Insurers all too often and not-so-coincidentally disregard their customers’ statutory rights. Be mindful of your rights under your policies and statutes. If you do not know your rights, you will not know when an insurer violates them.
1 (5)(a) Within 90 days after an insurer receives notice of an initial, reopened, or supplemental property insurance claim from a policyholder, the insurer shall pay or deny such claim or a portion of the claim unless the failure to pay is caused by factors beyond the control of the insurer which reasonably prevent such payment.
2 "In the event of the total loss of any building, . . . the insurer’s liability under the policy . . . shall be in the amount of money for which such property was so insured . . . ."