Bad weather is hitting Florida this weekend and possibly hurricane force winds from Erika. It is very important to be both prepared before you suffer damage and to be aware of your resources and obligations if your home or business suffers damage.
Governor Scott has just declared a state of emergency for the entire State of Florida and every county within the State. Let’s face it, as of this morning the forecast track and strength of Tropical Storm Erika has changed repeatedly with each hurricane center update. But as of the time that I am writing this post, it is predicted to traverse the spine of the Florida peninsula and could have wide-reaching affects for Florida residents.
If you work in or around property insurance in Florida, you have undoubtedly been exposed to the recent debate regarding Assignment of Benefits (“AOB”). An AOB is a legal form that allows an insurance provider to bill your insurance carrier directly. AOBs allow home-repair contractors to bill insurance carriers requiring nothing out-of-pocket from the homeowners after their home has been damaged. The following scenario illustrates how AOBs are supposed to work: A pipe breaks in your home and floods your living room. You call someone to extract the water the dry your home. With an AOB, that company will provide services to you without upfront payment because they have a legal means to recover their fee from the insurance company directly.
What do the Florida’s leaders have to say about our high property insurance premiums? I told to the Palm Beach Post that we should see a decline in premiums, and it looks like some of those in Tallahassee agree.
Recently, as outlined in Nicole Vinson’s blog post, Will Kevin McCarty Remain Florida’s Insurance Commissioner?, it has become apparent that the Florida Insurance Commissioner is on the hot seat. Unfortunately, there is no good reason for him to be in such a position. I was quoted on this topic by the Miami Herald and stated:
Kevin McCarty has been doing right by policyholders,” said Sean Shaw, founder of the group Policyholders of Florida and a former state insurance consumer advocate. “His job should not be in jeopardy, nor should Gov. Scott be attempting to circumvent the constitutional obligations of the Florida Cabinet again. This isn’t how our government is supposed to work.
If you have ever had an insurance claim or negotiated a loss on behalf of a property owner, you would probably agree that one of the most frustrating aspects of the claims investigation process is the virtually endless set of documents requested from the insurance company. Finding and sending all the documents can take days, weeks, or sometimes even months. Even after you provide an insurance carrier a packet of anything and everything in your possession relating to the loss, there’s a good chance you will receive a response from the insurer asking for more documents or a copy of the one receipt from 2008 you just don’t have.
If you’re an insured with a commercial residential policy issued by Citizens Property Insurance, or if you’re assisting an insured with a claim under one of these policies, it is important to know the answer to the question above. Why? It will make a big difference in terms of which insurance carrier a loss should be report to
Recently Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal (“5th DCA”) issued a ruling related to whether a policyholder had waived the right to participate in the appraisal process.1 The right to participate in appraisal under the policy can be waived if actions are taken that are inconsistent with that right.
Recently, the Florida Second District Court of Appeal (“Second DCA”) considered whether a claim was time-barred by the statute of limitations as it relates to the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (“FIGA”).1 The policyholders appealed the trial court ruling that the applicable statute of limitation (F.S.A. 95.11(5)(d) and 631.68) barred their claim for sinkhole damage. It should be noted that these statutory provisions specifically relate to FIGA, once it steps in to address claims from a liquidated insurance carrier within the State.
One of the many questions faced by the Florida Supreme Court is whether the lawmakers who drafted the statutory scheme which created Citizens Property Insurance Corporation intended to grant the insurance carrier immunity from liability for bad faith causes of actions. Not surprisingly, the issue came up during oral argument last week when Perdido Sun Condominium Association’s counsel noted,
It is clear to me, from a full reading of the Citizens Statute that the Legislature was out to help the individuals. And they make it clear that they don’t want those individual insureds of Citizens to be in any worst situation than a private insured.