The insurance industry is highly regulated in Florida, and for good reason. While some companies are highly reputable, as a whole, the industry has long held a reputation for taking advantage of consumers while putting profits ahead of policyholders’ needs.
Among the laws and regulations governing insurance companies in Florida is Title XXXVII of the Florida Statutes. This law gives policyholders the right to seek financial remedies for a wide range of improper insurance practices. However, it includes strict notice provisions as well, so insured individuals and companies seeking to enforce their rights must use care to do so appropriately.
Your Rights Under Florida’s Insurance Law
For property owners, most of the relevant protections appear in Section 624.155 and Section 626.9541 of Title XXXVII. Under these provisions, it is unlawful for insurance companies in Florida to:
- Publish false information about the terms of their insurance policies;
- Misrepresent the benefits, advantages, conditions, or terms of any insurance policy;
- Use misleading titles to describe insurance policies;
- Fail to attempt to settle insurance claims in good faith;
- Fail to provide a statement of coverage when paying a claim; and,
- Fail to settle one portion of a claim “when the obligation to settle . . . has become reasonably clear” in order to influence settlement of other portions of the claim.
This list is not exhaustive. In addition, it is important to keep in mind that the statutes do not provide policyholders’ only remedies when they are mistreated by their insurers. Insureds will frequently have other claims as well – including claims for various forms of bad faith – and taking action promptly will often be important to minimizing the consequences of unlawful insurance practices.
Notice Requirements for Filing a Claim Under Florida’s Insurance Law
For policyholders who have claims under Title XXXVII, there are strict notice requirements they must follow in order to enforce their rights. Specifically, insureds are required to provide 60 days’ advance written notice of the violation to their insurance company and to the Florida Department of Financial Services. The notice must be on the form provided by the Department of Financial Services, and must state:
- The specific statutory protection that was violated;
- The facts and circumstances giving rise to the violation;
- The name of any individual involved in the violation;
- The specific policy language that is relevant to the violation, if any; and,
- That the notice is given in anticipation of pursuing civil remedies under Title XXXVII.
If the Department of Financial Services determines that the notice is insufficient, it can reject the notice and request re-filing.
Once an approved notice is filed, the insurer has 60 days to pay the damages claimed. If it fails to do so, the policyholder will then have the right to seek financial remedies in court. If the policyholder’s claim is successful, the insurance company will be liable for the insured’s court costs and attorneys’ fees in addition to any compensatory and punitive damages awarded.
Schedule a Legal Consultation about Your Property Damage Insurance Claim
The property damage attorneys at Saavedra | Goodwin provide experienced representation for bad faith insurance claims and other insurance disputes throughout the Fort Lauderdale area. To learn more about protecting your rights against your insurance company, call (954) 767-6333 or request a consultation online today.