Every state provides legal remedies for insurance policyholders that are exposed to bad faith tactics by their insurance company. The prevalence of such remedies is a testament to the propensity of insurance companies to delay, lowball, and/or deny claims submitted by policyholders. Unfortunately, this remedy can be more difficult to employ in Florida than in other states because there is no common law first party bad faith cause of action available to Florida policyholders. Rather, a first party insured in Florida must rely entirely on the insurance bad faith statute (Section 624.155 - Civil Remedy Statute) enacted by the Florida legislature. Below is an overview of the prerequisites to pursuing a first party bad faith claim against insurance companies in Florida under the civil remedy statute.
First Party vs. Third Party Claims
Section 624.155(a) and (b) articulates the types of conduct that may provide a basis for a civil action to be brought under the statute against an insurance company. The provisions set forth criteria for evaluating the actions of an insurance carrier to analyze whether the insurer has acted honestly and fairly toward its policyholder with due regard for the policyholder’s interest.
Finding on Liability and Amount of Damages
A policyholder cannot pursue a claim for extra-contractual bad faith damages under Section 624.155 until there has been a determination of coverage and calculation of damages. If a statutory bad faith claim is brought prior to or simultaneous to such a determination, the bad faith cause of action will be considered premature.
A verdict that establishes a breach of contract by the insurance carrier and that determines the amount of the policyholder’s loss is not necessarily sufficient to pursue a bad faith claim. The policyholder must wait until all appeals have been exhausted before proceeding with a bad faith claim. This means that the insurance company has exhausted its appeals or the time to bring any further appeals has expired.
Sixty Day Notice
Perfection of a claim under Section 624.155 requires providing notice to the Florida Department of Financial Services (FDFS) as specified in the statute. The notice must be provided a minimum of sixty days prior to filing a bad faith lawsuit. The notice must also be served on the insurance company. The insurer has a sixty day window to remedy the violation.
You can reach Miami Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by 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].