Five Florida property insurance companies collapsed (went bankrupt) in the wake of Hurricane Ian in 2022, with United Property & Casualty Insurance Company following suit in 2023. In Florida, when insurance companies fail, the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) steps into the shoes of the liquidated insurance company to fulfill its contractual obligation to pay claims, subject to certain caps set by Florida law. Meaning, many Florida homeowners—whose insurance companies recently went bankrupt—are now trying to recover their hurricane damages from FIGA. As experienced hurricane claim attorneys, we have helped many policyholders recover from FIGA. Recently, we even obtained a judgment against FIGA without a jury trial. Here's how TWWH was able to obtain this result.
Lawsuit Against FIGA for Hurricane Sally Damage
After Hurricane Sally caused significant damage to our clients' home in Okaloosa County, their insurance company—St. Johns Insurance Company—failed to pay their claim timely and in full. As a result, TWWH filed a lawsuit against St. Johns on our clients' behalf to enforce their rights under the policy. St. Johns subsequently filed for bankruptcy so we substituted FIGA in place of St. Johns as FIGA was obligated to pay the claim pursuant to Florida law. In the lawsuit, FIGA—as do many insurance companies when adjusting hurricane claims in bad faith—chose to stand behind the field adjuster's lowball estimate of the damages and claim our clients were not entitled to more money on the claim.
TWWH's Motion for Summary Judgment
TWWH diligently prosecuted the case and obtained a trial date. However, TWWH did not sit back and wait for trial. TWWH also fought FIGA with a Motion for Summary Judgment. This, essentially, was a submission to the court that the only qualified admissible evidence in the record supported our clients' position that FIGA's damages estimate was too low and that they are entitled to more money on the claim. TWWH established this record evidence with an affidavit from a qualified construction expert attesting to our clients' entitlement to more money. Under Florida law FIGA was then required to put forth admissible record evidence, from a qualified construction expert, to counter our clients' claim. FIGA failed to do this.
FIGA's Failure to Counter TWWH's Submission of Evidence
In opposition to TWWH's Motion for Summary Judgment, FIGA attempted to point to its field adjuster's estimate—an inadmissible hearsay document—without: a) establishing the adjuster's expertise to estimate hurricane damages; or b) putting forth any sworn testimony of his opinions. FIGA then attempted to point to self-serving testimony from its own corporate representative saying what he expected the field adjuster would conclude in the trial of this matter. Neither of these attempts established qualified admissible evidence showing our clients were not entitled to more money on this claim.
Judgment Entered Against FIGA
In light of FIGA's failure to properly counter the qualified admissible evidence submitted by TWWH supporting entry of judgment in our clients' favor, Judge John T. Brown of Okaloosa County ruled in our clients' favor and entered judgment on October 10, 2023 against FIGA for $151,625.47.
You can read the full judgment against FIGA here.
We Are Here to Help With Your FIGA Claim
Our experienced insurance attorneys have been representing policyholders for decades. We have never represented insurance companies, and we never will. Our passion lies in fighting for the rights of everyday homeowners like you against big corporations that try to avoid their obligations and profit by paying you less. We never require any fee, cost, or obligation to discuss your claim with you and answer your questions. If you feel you are not being treated fairly by your insurance company or FIGA or you have questions about how your insurance claim is being handled, never hesitate to contact us.