Sinkholes have been in the news lately and Floridians are rightly concerned about both safety and ensuring their property is properly covered by insurance in case a sinkhole damages their home. Building off of our last post on sinkholes and the difficulties for homeowners and their insurance policies in Florida (see post here), our Florida property insurance lawyers saw another recent story about a case involving this very issue. Continue reading “Court Upholds Florida Sinkhole Property Insurance Rule”
Over the last few years, there seems to have been an increase in sinkhole activity in Florida. This has had much impact on the properties affected, as Florida property insurance attorneys know. And now the nation’s attention has been turned to the issue because of the tragic sinkhole that took Floridian Jeff Bush’s life a few weeks ago, when a sinkhole swallowed him while he was in his bedroom in his home, preparing to retire to bed for the night. Continue reading “Sinkholes and Your Home”
Insurance customers of Florida’s state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. have filed a class-action lawsuit in Broward County to stop their reinspection program, according to news reports. The policyholders claim they’ve been hit with potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in what they call “back-door” rate increases. They claim Citizens managed to do this by performing what the plaintiffs say were arbitrary reinspections of their properties and then hitting the policyholders with higher windstorm premiums. Continue reading “Class-Action Against State-Run Citizens Insurance”
Debra Peters is the hardworking co-owner of Custom Wood Creations, Inc, a Pompano Beach company that made high-end cabinets and furniture. The other co-owner is Debra’s husband, Ronald. The company suffered significant damage in 2005 due to Hurricane Wilma, but their insurance company, FCCI Commercial Insurance Co, refused to pay what they owed the couple, despite the fact that the Peters’ policy was up to date and paid in full. Florida insurance attorneys see this kind of scenario all the time, unfortunately. But what happened next brought Debra Peters’ case from the unfortunate and unfair to the horrific and nightmarish.
According to news reports, the insurance company not only refused to pay the claim, but the company instead accused Debra of insurance fraud. FCCI filed false and incomplete information on her to the Florida Department of Insurance, which resulted in criminal charges against Debra. She was arrested and spent 16 hours in jail. The criminal case was eventually thrown out for lack of evidence, but not before she and her family suffered from the emotional strain of the experience. And due to FCCI’s refusal to pay the claim for the hurricane damage, Ronald and Debra had to borrow money from friends to fix their building. In addition, they could not gather enough money to fix their equipment, so they ended up having to lease the space to another company, where Ronald now works.
This week, the Peters got some vindication when a Broward County Circuit Court jury awarded them $6 million from FCCI for breaching a contract and malicious prosecution after a three-week-long trial. It is broken down as $4.8 million in compensatory damages to recover what the Peters’ lost, and $1.2 million in punitive damages to punish the bad behavior of the insurance company. The jury found that FCCI intended to harm Debra Peters and that the company did so with unreasonable financial gain as the motivation. Their attorneys stated that Debra and Ronald Peters “just want to get back to work and restart their business, as they would have done if the insurance company had only paid what was owed after the hurricane.”
FCCI’s senior vice-president said they were disappointed with the Broward County ruling and are considering appealing the judgment, claiming their reputation is “paramount.” This could delay settlement of the case.
Cases like Debra and Ronald Peters’, where an insurance company pushes the less powerful customer around and tries to cheat the policyholder out of benefits paid for and due, show why it is important to talk to a Florida insurance attorney about your situation. And it is also important to remember that if you proceed with a case, under Florida law, if you succeed, the attorney’s fees will automatically be the responsibility of the insurance company. This means that no matter how big or small your claim, if you win your case, you get to keep the entire award and the insurance company will pay all of your lawyer’s fees.
See Our Related Blog Posts:
Hurricane Fund Problems
Force Placed Insurance in Florida
Florida insurance attorneys know that insurance companies sometimes try to take advantage of consumers’ lack of sophistication or understanding and use that advantage to gain business or make more profit. This is why having an experienced insurance attorney in your corner can be helpful. Our insurance attorneys noticed an interesting story along those lines in the Insurance Journal this week about a case of an adjusting firm suing a blogger for claiming their name, United States Adjusting, was misleading. Continue reading “Claims Adjuster Name Issue”
Florida is a particularly difficult state when it comes to property insurance. The risk and damage from hurricanes plays a large role in that. Property owners rely on the state to ensure that they are covered and can rebuild after a catastrophic hurricane, but that reliance is looking shakier these days, as Florida deals with budget shortfalls and diminishing resources. Continue reading “Hurricane Fund Problems”
Florida has always been an expensive state for homeowner’s and other types of property insurance, but lately, it seems like things are getting out of hand. A recent news article discussed how condo associations around the state are pleading for state government intervention in the face of insurance rates tripling this coming year. One condo board member, Ed Wolfe, said, “Property insurance has gotten totally out of control in this state.” Continue reading “Property Insurance Rates Triple in Florida”
Unless you have been in the situation, maybe you don’t even know what “force placed” insurance is. Force placed insurance, sometimes called “lender placed”, is when a lender or creditor takes out insurance on an asset that doesn’t have insurance, and the costs of the insurance are passed on to the customer, hence why it is “forced”. It is mostly used in property insurance, including homes and cars. Therefore, when a person buys a car or a house with a mortgage or a loan, the creditor, usually a bank, requires that the buyer carry insurance on that property. If the buyer doesn’t get his or her own insurance, the creditor obtains the insurance to protect their investment. Continue reading “Force Placed Insurance in Florida”
Hurricane season might be over, but Floridians know that always having their homes prepared ho for the next big storm is vitally important. Therefore, homeowners around Florida take time throughout the rest of the year to make improvements and take precautions — sometimes that includes obtaining insurance coverage. Unfortunately, sometimes instead of providing the support needed during a crisis, some families are forced to fight their insurance company to receive what they are due on their claims. Continue reading “Florida Judge Rules On Validity of Wind Credit Insurance Forms”
Golf carts are a popular transportation device throughout the area. The convenience of being able to quickly load up supplies and visit the beach or a neighbor without getting into a car has lead more and more families to purchase a golf cart. Yet, while these machines do not travel as fast as cars, it is unwise to assume the risk of harm is lessened. Florida golf cart accidents strike all the time, and the results are sometimes serious. Continue reading “Golf Cart Accident Leads to Lawsuit Over Lack of Warnings”