A Florida appellate court has ruled that the 60-day cure period for a Civil Remedy Notice begins when the policyholder files the Civil Remedy Notice – not when the insurance company receives a copy of it.

Civil Remedy Notices are filed pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 624.155, which provides:

(3)(a) As a condition precedent to brining an action under this section, the department and the authorized insurer must have been given 60 days’ written notice of the violation. If the department returns a notice for lack of specificity, the 60-day time period shall not begin until a proper notice is filed…

(c) Within 20 days of receipt of the notice, the department may return any notice that does not provide the specific information required by this section, and the department shall indicate the specific deficiencies in the notice. A determination by the department to return a notice for lack of specificity shall be exempt from the requirements of chapter 120.

(d) No action shall lie if, within 60 days after filing notice, the damages are paid or the circumstances giving rise to the violation are corrected…

(f) The applicable statute of limitations for an action under this section shall be tolled for a period of 65 days by the mailing of the notice required by this subsection or the mailing of a subsequent notice required by the subsection.

(Emphasis added).

In Harper v. GEICO Ins. Co., No. 2D17-4987 (Fla. Ct. App. March 1, 2019), the policyholder filed a Civil Remedy Notice (“CRN”) on December 18, 2013. GEICO agreed to pay the policyholder the policy limit of liability, and the check and release were not received until February 21, 2014,—65 days after the CRN was electronically filed with DFS and mailed to GEICO.

GEICO argued that its payment was timely under Section 624.155(3)(a) because it did not receive the CRN until December 26 and payment was made within 60 days of that date. The trial court agreed with GEICO.

On appeal, the appellate court explained that Section 624.155(3)(d) “plainly” states that “[n]o action shall lie if, within 60 days after filing notice, the damages are paid or the circumstances giving rise to the violation are corrected.” The appellate court further reasoned that a policyholder files a CRN with the DFS electronically, and while DFS also requires the policyholder to print and mail a paper copy of the CRN to the insurance company, the DFS considers the form to be “filed” when the policyholder clicks the “submit” button at the bottom of the electronic form.

Ultimately, the appellate court held that the 60-day cure period “begins when the CRN is electronically filed with the [DFS], and to avoid a bad faith action, the insurer must pay the claim or take corrective action within [60] days from the date the CRN is electronically filed.”

While the Harper case dealt with UM benefits, this same logic applies to first-party property insurance claims.