In Landers v. State Farm Fla. Ins. Co., 234 So.3d 856 (Fla. 5th DCA 2018), Florida’s appellate judges on the Fifth District Court of Appeal separately addressed the issue of: Whether an insured under any given policy must wait until after completing the appraisal process provided for in that policy, before the insured can file a Civil Remedy Notice of Insurer Violation. The case involved a sinkhole claim and in anticipation of the insurer not adequately resolving the claim, the homeowner filed a CRN.
The trial court dismissed the complaint indicating that the CRN was filed prematurely. In Florida, the CRN is a precondition to suing under the Florida Bad Faith Statute, Section 624.155.
Although the Judges wrote separately, the Court agreed on one answer, and that it is, to allow the insured to file a CRN even while an appraisal contemplated by the insurance policy is still pending.
While this case involved a homeowner’s issue, the holding may be applicable to other insurer violations, however under a personal injury claim, it would be difficult to imagine filing a CRN against an insurer before they have had an opportunity to review the medicals and issues of liability before claiming bad faith.
The prudent measure is to provide the insurer every reasonable opportunity to make the claimant whole and to provide all the information known at any given time to the insurer. What the insurer does with that information, may or may not be, bad faith, but the insured will certainly be more likely to advance their bad faith claims, if they themselves have conducted themselves with transparency.
Bad Faith Claim – Insurer can waive the Notice Requirement
In Evergreen Lakes HOA, Inc. v. Lloyd’s Underwriters at London, 230 So. 3d 1, (Fla. 4th DCA 2017), the plaintiff homeowner’s association incurred hurricane damages and sued for breach of the insurance contract. A civil remedy notice of bad faith may have been sent to the wrong address for the insurer. The insurer raised a ‘technicality’ under the Statute to avoid the claims of bad faith.
The carrier argued that the claimant could not prove they had actually sent a copy of the CRN to the insurer. The insurer did not argue or raise issue that they had not ever received a copy as it was clear they had received it and even responded to it.
Florida statute requires the claimant to provide a copy of the CRN to the insurance carrier. The Florida appellate court ruled that such a requirement could be waived under certain circumstances. The Court reversed a summary judgment that the trial court had granted in favor of the insurance carrier on the ground that proper notice had not been given to it as it was clear that years before suit was filed, the insurer did have the CRN and even responded to it.