The Florida Third District Court of Appeals just stood up for your rights! As attorneys who have dedicated twenty-plus years of our practice to protecting policyholders, never insurance companies, we are always grateful and inspired to see opinions like this come out of our courts. After Hurricanes Irma and Michael, many insurance companies have delayed or denied payment for storm damage repairs. Some have even tried to take away your right to a jury trial if you have to sue your insurance company to recover on your claim. This court said: “Not so fast.” This was a great step in favor of the rights of policyholders and an important message to insurance companies that they are not above the law and they cannot ignore your rights.
Insurance Company's Demand for Appraisal of Hurricane Irma Damage
In Kennedy v. First Protective Insurance Company d/b/a Frontline Insurance, Case No. 3D18-1993 (March 6, 2019)the insureds, Michael and Debra Kennedy, filed an insurance claim after their house was damaged by Hurricane Irma. The Kennedys placed the insurance company on immediate notice that their windows would need to be replaced entirely. However, Frontline disputed this and wanted, instead, to only replace the glass. This dispute continued from October, 2017 into the spring of 2018 when Frontline issued a demand for appraisal followed by a notice of right to mediate in June, 2018. The Kennedys sued Frontline in July, 2018, and Frontline asked the trial court to compel its demand for an appraisal.
Third DCA Finds Frontline's Demand Illegal Under Fla. Stat. 627.7015
On appeal, the appellate court overturned the trial court's grant of Frontline's motion for an appraisal finding Frontline failed to first send the Kennedys proper notice of their right to mediate pursuant to Fla. Stat. 627.7015. As the court noted, this law was enacted to protect policyholders and puts the burden of notice “squarely on the insurance company” as soon as a dispute is expected. Because Frontline failed to notify the Kennedys of their rights to mediate before making a demand for appraisal, the Third District Court of Appeals found Frontline had violated the law and the Kennedys' rights to notice, making Frontline's demand for the appraisal illegal.
Court Held Insurance Company Waived Its Right to Demand an Appraisal
The court went one step further in concluding that an insurance company that demands an appraisal prior to honoring policyholders' statutorily-granted right of notice to mediate waives its right to an appraisal. Take that Frontline! We report on decisions like these as they encourage us in our daily battle against insurance companies to protect your rights as policyholders. If an insurance company has asked you to do something you are unsure you are required to do under your policy, contact us immediately for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to learn your obligations and your rights. (850) 438-4899 [email protected]