The First District Court of Appeals has issued a ruling which could affect property owners throughout Florida who receive discounts on their property insurance because they have taken steps to reduce the likelihood and severity of losses due to windstorms. Insurers who do business in Florida are required by law (§ 627.0629(1), Fla. Stat. (2012)) to provide discounts or other savings to insureds who implement any type of windstorm damage mitigation at their properties in an effort to prevent windstorm losses.
The case originated in 2013 as a class action lawsuit brought by Patricia and Abraham Asseff. In that lawsuit, the Asseffs alleged that they and the class of plaintiffs that they sought to represent had submitted uniform mitigation verification inspection forms to their insurer after a professional inspector had inspected the windstorm damage mitigation measures that had been implemented at each of their properties; that their insurer had accepted the forms without conducting its own inspections of the properties; and that the insurer had been giving them premium credits based on their windstorm damage mitigation efforts.
Of particular importance in this case is a clause in the mitigation inspection forms which the Asseffs allege indicates that the verification provided by the form is valid for up to five years, if no material changes are made to the structure. The Asseffs alleged that their insurer began re-inspecting their properties without cause, before five years had elapsed following the submission of the mitigation verification inspection forms. They also alleged that after the properties had been reinspected, they lost many of the windstorm loss mitigation credits that had previously been awarded to them. The Asseffs sought declaratory relief for themselves and for the class of plaintiffs that they claimed to represent. They wanted the court to declare that the mitigation verification inspection forms and their terms must be incorporated into the insurance policies for their properties and that their insurer must honor the mitigation forms and inspection results on their properties for five years unless there had been a material change to the property. The trial court had dismissed the Asseffs’ case and they appealed it. The result on appeal was that the appeals court upheld the trial court’s ruling that the case should be dismissed because the Appellants, the Asseffs, have not exhausted the administrative remedies that are available to them.
Insurance companies sometimes do things that are contrary to the contracts that their insureds have with them. In some situations, this includes removing premium discounts without cause.
You can reach Miami Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgoby dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].