Recently, I discussed a case dealing with insurance agent duties in California. In an effort to bring the discussion closer to home, I will discuss a recent Florida decision. In Mitleider v. Brier Grieves Agency, Inc., No. 4D09-3362, — So. 3d —-, (Fla. 4th DCA February 16, 2011), Corey Mitleider brought suit against his insurance company and insurance agent for negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and vicarious liability. The problem arose because Mitleider did not purchase uninsured motorist coverage when purchasing his automobile insurance. Mitleider claimed he relied on the advice of his insurance agent, who told him that uninsured motorist coverage wasn’t necessary to be fully covered.

The insurance company and agent filed a motion to dismiss which the trial court ultimately granted (after first denying), ending the lawsuit for Mitleider. Mitleider appealed that decision and the appellate Court upheld the ruling. Mitleider signed a form rejecting the uninsured motorist coverage, and the appellate court looked to Florida Statute section 627.727(1), which provides that uninsured motorist coverage shall be applicable to all, unless an insured named in the policy makes a written rejection of the coverage on behalf of all insureds under the policy. More importantly though, the statute provides that if this form is signed by a named insured, applicant, or lessee, it is conclusively presumed that there was an informed, knowing acceptance of such limitations. §627.727(9), Fla. Stat. (2007).

The Court interpreted the statute to mean that by signing the form, creating the conclusive presumption, Mitleider could not later claim that he wasn’t offered the coverage or was not properly informed of the coverage. The Court held the presumption could not be rebutted by Mitleider’s testimony that he did not read the form.

The important point to take from this case is that when buying insurance, make absolutely sure you really know what you are getting and read every form you sign.