Florida Homeowners Insurance Statutes

 

This page is an extremely valuable outline of the most important laws you need to know to understand Florida homeowners insurance claims. 

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I. How Much Money Must Be Paid on a Claim?

A. Deductibles

Fla. Stat. 627.701: Liability of Insureds; Coinsurance; Deductibles

B. Valuation of Claim

Fla. Stat. 627.7011: Homeowners Policies; Offer of Replacement Cost Coverage and Law and Ordinance Coverage

C. Valued Policy Law

Fla. Stat. 627.702: Valued Policy Law

  • Among other things, the Valued Policy Law statute requires homeowners insurers to pay the dollar amount (coverage limits) of the insurance policy when a property is so damaged that it becomes a “total loss.”

Florida Homeowners Insurance Claims and Litigation Handbook

Florida Homeowners Insurance Claims and Litigation Handbook

Florida Homeowners Insurance Claims and Litigation Handbook and Litigation Data Reports:

Before we go on, if you are in the Florida homeowners insurance claims industry and are looking for a guide with the key cases, strategies, laws, attorneys, and adjusters, or if you’re looking for Florida litigation data reports, please visit this page to learn more about our Florida Homeowners Insurance Claims and Litigation Handbook.


II. Insurance Adjusters: Licensing and Laws

Fla. Stat. 626.011-711: Insurance Field Representatives and Operations


III. Money

Fla. Stat. 627.4265: Payment of Settlement

Fla. Stat. 627.428: Attorney’s Fee

  • This is the most powerful law in Florida for homeowners insurance.
  • If a homeowner is forced to hire a lawyer to sue a homeowners insurer because the insurer did not pay enough for a claim, and the homeowner wins that lawsuit, then the homeowner is entitled to his or her attorney’s fees:
    • after the trial, the homeowner’s lawyer argues to the Court how many hours she worked on the case, and what she thinks her hourly rate is, and the Court determines the amount the homeowners insurer must pay the homeowner’s lawyer;
  • Here are some other important notes on attorney’s fees in homeowners insurance cases:
    • Florida also awards lawyers with what is called a “contingency fee multiplier.”  This means that, if a lawyer represents a homeowner using a contingency fee agreement, and wins the case, then the lawyer may be entitled to have the Court award him reasonable attorney’s fees amount that she thinks she is entitled to and MULTIPLY it by 1.5 or 2.0.
    • Although many lawyers representing homeowners haven’t been paid on an hourly basis for years, Courts will award them anywhere from $300-$500 per hour for every hour they spend working on a case (NOT including the multiplier).  Why? Because other courts have already determined that these are reasonable hourly rates.

Claims Handling

Coverage and Denial Letters

Fla. Stat. 627.4091: Specific Reasons for Denial, Cancellation, or Nonrenewal

Deadlines/Timelines for Communication and Payment

Fla. Stat. 627.70131: Insurer’s Duty to Acknowledge Communications Regarding Claims; Investigations

  • This law requires homeowners insurers to respond to claims within 14 days after being notified.
  • The 90 Day Rule: no less than 90 days after a claim is reported, the homeowners insurer must pay the homeowner the amount of coverage owed.
    • There is one exception: when the homeowners insurer cannot pay the claim because of factors that it cannot control, it does not have to pay the claim within 90 days.
      • Once the insurer gets those factors under control, it has an additional 15 days to pay the claim.

Bad Faith

Fla. Stat. 624.155: Civil Remedy

  • This law provides homeowners insurers and homeowners with the guidelines for how to fairly handle claims, and the process for a homeowner to pursue additional money when she believes the homeowners insurer did not fairly handle the claim.

Mediation

Fla. Stat. 627.7015: Alternative Procedure for Disputed Property Insurance Claims

  • This law describes homeowners insurers’ and homeowners’ rights to request a nonbinding mediation when they dispute a claim.

Getting Homeowners Insurance

Fla. Stat. 627.408: Insurance Application as Evidence

  • Unless the application was attached and made part of the policy, it cannot be admitted as evidence in a lawsuit.

Fla. Stat. 627.4091: Specific Reasons for Denial, Cancellation, or Nonrenewal

  • If a homeowners insurer cancels or nonrenews a homeowners insurance policy, then the insurer has to provide the homeowner with the specific reasons for the cancellation or nonrenewal.

General Laws on Insurance Policies

OverviewFla. Stat. 627.401-442: Insurance Rates and Contracts: The Insurance Contract

Fla. Stat. 627.405: Insurable Interest; Property

Fla. Stat. 627.4143: Outline of Coverage

  • Homeowners insurers must provide homeowners with a checklist of insurance coverage that they have selected.
  • The checklist of coverage is only to try to help homeowners navigate insurance policies.  The checklist cannot alter the terms of the rest of the policy, and a homeowner cannot try to use the application as evidence to contradict the policy.

Fla. Stat. 627.422: Assignment of Policies

Fla. Stat. 627.43141: Notice of Change in Policy Terms

  • Florida courts have determined that this statute means the following: when a homeowners insurer issues a renewal of the insurance policy, they cannot make significant changes to the policy that were not in the previous policy, and they must provide obvious notice of any such changes.
  • The theory behind this law is that homeowners should not be required to read dozens of policy pages every year if the homeowners insurer claims that the new policy is merely a renewal of the last one
  • On a related note, Florida courts have determined that if a homeowners insurer makes a substantial change in a policy but renews the policy instead of cancelling it and issuing a new policy, then that insurer might not be allowed to enforce the new provision until proper notice is provided.

Sinkhole Coverage and Claims

Related Articles on Sinkhole Claims and CasesVerdict Forms in Sinkhole Cases and Florida Sinkhole Homeowners Insurance Update: Lobello v. State Farm

Fla. Stat. 627.706: Sinkhole Insurance; Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse Coverage; Definitions

  • This statute includes all of the definitions you need to know if you are involved in a sinkhole claim

Fla. Stat. 627.707: Investigation of Sinkhole Claims; Insurer Payment; Nonrenewals

  • In this statute, you can read a step-by-step outline of what a homeowners insurer must do to investigate and pay a sinkhole claim

Fla. Stat. 627.7072: Testing Standards for Sinkhole Claims

  • This law describes what an engineer and/or geologist must evaluate when a homeowners insurer requests they test for a “sinkhole loss” claim

Fla. Stat. 627.7073: Sinkhole Reports

  • In this provision, you can find what must be included in a sinkhole report drafted by an engineer and/or geologist, and what must be done with that report

Fla. Stat. 627.7074: Neutral Evaluation

  • This statute describes the nonbinding, but mandatory, process of “mediating” an insurance claim
  • Neutral Evaluation provides homeowners and homeowners insurers with an opportunity to have a third party engineer review the information and determine if there is a “sinkhole loss” and, if so, what it will cost to stabilize the home
  • If a homeowners insurer agrees with the neutral evaluator, then the homeowner’s rights to recover more coverage later on may be limited.

Florida Insurance Guaranty Association

Fla. Stat. 631: Insurer Insolvency

  • When homeowners insurers become bankrupt, Florida has a “back up plan” – the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (“FIGA”)
  • In this statute, you can find out what obligations FIGA has to homeowners when their homeowners insurer goes bankrupt
    • Importantly, FIGA is not obligated to pay the exact same coverages as the original homeowners insurer; therefore, this provision explains FIGA’s limited responsibilities.

Administrative Provisions

Fla. Stat. 624: Insurance Code: General and Administrative Provisions

Fla. Stat. 624.302-353: the Department of Financial Services

Statutes of Limitations

Fla. Stat. 95.11(2)(e): Florida Homeowners Insurance Statute of Limitations for Claims

Fla. Stat. 627.70132: Statute of Limitations for Reporting Hurricane Claims

 


Florida Homeowners Insurance Claims and Litigation Handbook

Florida Homeowners Insurance Claims and Litigation Handbook

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