Do I Have a Bad Faith Property Damage Claim in Florida?
If your property insurance company is giving you the “run around” when paying for your damages, you may have a legal opportunity to hold them accountable through a bad faith insurance claim. However, these cases are challenging and will require professional legal help to handle as efficiently and effectively as possible.
In this article, a Miami property damage lawyer addresses a bad faith claim, the different types of claims that could apply to your situation, a high-level overview of Florida’s bad faith laws, and where you can find legal help.
What Is a Bad Faith Claim?
You might be able to pursue your insurer for additional compensation in civil court for bad faith. As a homeowners’ insurance policyholder, the first step is to educate yourself about your insurance company’s obligations. State and federal laws require them to act in good faith and engage in fair business practices.
These requirements include:
· Acknowledging your claim
· Investigating promptly
· Responding to your communications as soon as possible
· Using an efficient processing system
· Explaining the denial of your claim or any delays in the process
If your insurer engages in any of these practices, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible to avoid missing legal opportunities.
Related Article: How To Collect What You Deserve For A Flood Damage Claim
What Are the Different Types of Bad Faith Insurance Claims?
There are two kinds of bad faith insurance claims that Florida’s civil laws recognize, including first- and third-party. A first-party bad faith claim is when the insurer refuses to pay a claim or conduct an investigation. A third-party bad faith claim is when the insurer fails to defend, indemnify, or settle a claim within the policy limits or investigate a claim on behalf of a third party, such as when the insured purchases obtain a policy to protect against claims from a third party.
What Are Florida’s Bad Faith Laws?
Florida laws are clear when it comes to bad faith claims under FL. Stat. § 624.155. This statute tells us that any person may bring a civil action against an insurer if they were harmed by any of the following acts:
1. Not attempting to settle claims in good faith when it could and should have done so, or;
2. Making payments to insureds or beneficiaries without a statement describing the coverage for which the payment is being made, or;
3. Failure to promptly settle claims under one portion of insurance policy coverage when the obligation to pay is reasonably clear
Florida courts have interpreted the good faith requirement as a “duty to their insureds to abstain from acting solely for their own settlement interests.” Additionally, bad faith claims may be made based on violations of Florida’s Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act, which defines specific acts that constitute bad faith.
Related Article: 4 Tips for Negotiating Florida Property Damage Claims
Do I Have to Give Insurers a Chance to Fix the Bad Faith Action?
Insurance companies must be given the ability to cure their bad faith actions. Before filing a lawsuit, you must provide the insurance company with 60 days to cure their alleged violation. The policyholder must initiate the process by filing a notice with the insurance company and Florida’s Department of Financial Services.
If they satisfactorily resolve the claim within 60 days, you no longer have a bad faith claim. Otherwise, the next step is to file a petition with the appropriate court.