Archives: Hurricane Wilma

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Surplus Lines Insurers Are Not Always “Relieved” To Be Free From Regulation Under The Florida Insurance Code

In May 2012, in Surplus Lines Insurance; Bridging The Gap In Coverage, we wrote about surplus lines insurance and how it is regulated by the Surplus Lines Law.1 Free from the rate and form regulations which govern authorized insurers, the surplus lines industry can fill the gaps in available insurance for Florida residents. In a … Continue Reading

Florida’s Appellate Courts Have Been Busy With Late Notice Hurricane Wilma Cases

The Florida Fourth District Court of Appeals has been busy with late notice Hurricane Wilma cases on appeal. Trial courts within the Fourth District have disposed of these cases, finding as a matter of law that late notice prejudiced insurers. Judges generally decide questions of law, while questions of fact are left for the trier … Continue Reading

Policyholders Will Have Their Day In Court Since Florida Court of Appeals Overturns Trial Court’s Ruling In “Late Notice” Hurricane Wilma Case

Those familiar with Hurricane Wilma litigation in South Florida may be fully aware of a recent trend of trial court rulings which take cases away from juries, seemingly depriving policyholders of their days in court. Summary judgment rulings on “late notice” defenses basically ended the cases and took the factual determinations away from the jury. … Continue Reading

Expert Witnesses Must Remember Three Steps: (1) Qualifications (2) Reliability, and (3) Helpfulness

Expert witnesses are crucial to support disputed insurance claims, especially when the claims involve extensive damage, as is often the case in hurricane claims. While the standards for expert witness testimony may differ between state and federal courts, all federal courts are bound by Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and the United States Supreme Court’s … Continue Reading

Florida Court Draws a Hard Line on Attorney’s Fees from FIGA

The Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) is Florida’s public entity for resolving claims for certain insolvent insurers. FIGA is controlled mostly by statute, and attorney’s fees are no exception. Generally, under Florida Statute § 627.428, attorney’s fees are available for an insured who succeeds on legal action against his or her insurance company. However, Florida … Continue Reading

South Florida Juries Reach Different Conclusions in Late Notice Hurricane Cases

After two recent trials in federal court in South Florida, two different juries found different results in allegedly late filed hurricane insurance claims. Most property insurance policies require that the policyholder notify the insurance company of loss or damage with some degree of expediency, however most policies do not specify when notice will be late … Continue Reading

In Federal Court, Judges Act As Gatekeepers In Deciding Whether To Admit Expert Testimony

In a recent case before the U.S. District Court in Ft. Lauderdale, the Court had to decide whether a policyholder’s expert should be allowed to testify on certain issues in the trial of the case involving Hurricane Wilma damages. Clena Investments, Inc. v. XL Specialty Ins. Co., 2012 WL 266422 (S.D. Fla. January 30, 2012). … Continue Reading

According To A Recent Ruling, Appraisal Claims, Like Fine Wines, May Ripen And Mature With Time

Recently, the Florida Southern District Court updated its order in Garden-Aire Village South Condo. Assoc., Inc. v. QBE Insurance Corp., No. 10-cv-61985 (S.D. Fla. January 4, 2012). I discussed the Garden-Aire case on April 5, 2011, in Importance Of An Actual Controversy Demonstrated As Southern District Court Of Florida Dismisses And Stays Action Against QBE … Continue Reading

Windows and Sliding Glass Doors Are Covered Property

When it comes to damage, few things are more expensive to replace than windows and sliding glass door systems. Almost every condominium unit has at least one sliding glass door system, and most have more than one. Widespread damage from earthquakes or hurricanes can prove extremely costly for an association and lead to substantial assessments … Continue Reading

Federal District Court Finds Complaint for Breach of Contract is Sufficiently Pled in Hurricane Wilma Claim

The Southern District Court of Florida recently issued an opinion discussing the amount of detail required to state a claim for breach of contract in Florida in a Hurricane Wilma claim. Galison v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co., No. 10-81522, 2011 WL 3419620 (S.D. Fla. August 4, 2011). The insurer in the case filed a motion … Continue Reading

Importance Of An Actual Controversy Demonstrated As Southern District Court Of Florida Dismisses And Stays Action Against QBE As Speculative

The Southern District Court of Florida recently dismissed a policyholder’s case against QBE and granted a stay of the action in a lawsuit stemming from Hurricane Wilma. Garden-Aire Village South Condo. Assoc., Inc. v. QBE Insurance Corp., No. 10–61985, 2011 WL 1184737 (S.D. Fla. March 31, 2011). The policyholder filed the lawsuit against QBE on … Continue Reading

Hurricane Law Tip – Document Hurricane Repair Expenditures Even After a Claim Settlement

The other day at the NAPIA Conference, Mary Fortson, Vivian Persand and I were discussing an issue of importance for policyholders to be mindful of even after their Hurricane Wilma claims are resolved. Oftentimes, much of the advice offered by lawyers and professionals to policyholders in the property insurance industry concerns what steps need to … Continue Reading

The Importance of Experts

I recently represented a client at a court hearing on a motion to compel appraisal to determine the amount of roof damage from Hurricane Wilma. The insurance company’s attorney opposed appraisal, so the judge asked him who other than appraisers should determine the amount of damage from Wilma. “I’m not getting on that roof!” exclaimed … Continue Reading

An Insurer’s Participation in Appraisal and Payment of Appraisal Award Does Not Necessarily Preclude a Statutory Bad Faith Claim

Just a few weeks ago, the Fort Myers Division of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida handed down its memorandum opinion on the insurer’s motion for summary judgment in Royal Marco Point I Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. QBE Ins. Corp., No. 3:07 CV 16, 2010 WL 2757240 (M.D. Fla. July … Continue Reading

Late Notice Of The Claim Part 1 — Contrary to The Popular Belief of Insurance Carriers in Florida, Late Notice Is Not Necessarily An Absolute Coverage Defense

A frequent issue that lawyers, adjusters and other insurance industry experts address in Florida involves policyholders’ failure to timely report their Hurricane Wilma claims to the insurance carriers. Often times, a policyholder is unaware of his or her rights and obligations under the policy and Florida law, and is unfamiliar with finding and determining damages … Continue Reading

Florida Southern District Court Upholds Condominium Association’s Right to Bad Faith Discovery

(Note: This Guest Blog is by Corey Harris, an attorney with Merlin Law Group in the Tampa, Florida, office. This is part of a series he is writing on post-loss duties).  In Florida, discovery in breach of contract actions usually centers around the mystical “claim file” which insurers guard more closely than their first born … Continue Reading