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FIGA’s New Tactic: Sending Partial Funds as “Full and Final Payment”

Posted by Phillip Warren | Jan 10, 2024 | 0 Comments

If FIGA owes you $100,000, they should not send you a $50,000 check that says “full and final payment.”  As we have explained here before, cashing that check would allow FIGA to argue you accepted the $50,000 (as the check states) in full and final payment on the claim.  This legal principle is known as “accord and satisfaction,” and can be used as a legal way to bar additional recovery.  In the wake of Hurricane Ian, when FIGA has taken on a record number of claims from multiple collapsed insurance companies, we have been appalled to see FIGA treat policyholders worse than their failed insurance company did—making lowball offers, refusing to cooperate or investigate the claim in good faith, and (now) attempting to avoid their obligation to pay you in full with a deceptive “full and final payment” written on a check paying only partial, undisputed funds.  Here's what you need to know to ensure you protect your right to recover in full from FIGA. 

FIGA wrongfully denied claim

 

Within Its Statutory Limit of $500k, FIGA Has the Same Duty to Pay Your Claim 

FIGA is a state-run organization that provides financial protection, a guaranty, to Florida policyholders in the event that your insurance company fails, i.e., goes bankrupt, sometimes referred to as going “insolvent” or “into receivership.”  You can learn more about how FIGA works here, as well as how to negotiate your claim with FIGA here.  The biggest takeaway we want all policyholders to know about FIGA is that FIGA steps into the shoes of your failed insurance company.  Meaning, within FIGA's statutory limits—$500,000 on residential property damage claims—FIGA owes you the same duties that your failed insurance company owed you.  That includes the duty to investigate and adjust the claim in good faith, to communicate with you and keep you updated, and timely pay the claim in full.  You are not required to accept a lowball offer from FIGA that does not fulfill FIGA's duty to pay your claim in full, up to $500,000. 

Do Not Fall Prey to FIGA's Recent “Full and Final Payment” Tactic

Recently, we have seen FIGA taking an egregious tactic in an attempt to avoid its obligation to pay homeowners' claims in full.  In insurance claims, there is typically an amount of money deemed “undisputed funds.”  Undisputed funds is an amount of money the insurance company has determined it owes you (meaning, you don't dispute it; it is owed to you).  This leaves a remainder of “disputed funds,” typically a good deal of money, that policyholders are entitled to prove the insurance company still owes them.  This amount in dispute is typically what we, as insurance claim attorneys, fight for and pursue on your behalf.

What we have seen FIGA doing recently—and this conduct is quite surprising from FIGA and very disheartening—is writing “full and final payment” on the check they issue for “undisputed funds,” i.e., only a small portion of what is owed on the total claim.  FIGA's intentional inclusion of this language on the check is a trap.  They are hoping you, the policyholders, cash that check so they can argue their partial payment now constitutes full and final payment on the claim.  If you receive any payment from an insurance company, including FIGA, that states it is in “full and final payment” (or similar verbiage) and you believe you are owed more on your claim: DO NOT CASH THAT CHECK without speaking an experienced professional or attorney first. 

Why You May Need an Attorney to Help With Your FIGA Claim

We share tactics like this with you so you can be aware of the games insurance companies, including FIGA, often try to play to avoid their obligation to pay claims timely and in full.  Don't let an insurance company play games with your claim.  We have fought FIGA on many claims and actually recently obtained a verdict against FIGA without having to go to a jury trial.  If you do not understand a position your insurance company has taken or you have questions about the way you are being treated by your insurance company, we know what to do.  Never hesitate to contact us for a free, no-cost, no-obligation consultation.  Our experienced attorneys are here to help and answer your questions.

About the Author

Phillip Warren

Phillip devotes the same honor, courage, and commitment to his clients as he did in the USMC.

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