Florida Supreme Court hears State Farm fight with policyholder over physician exams

Oct 2, 2012

The following article was published in The Florida Current on October 2, 2012:

Supreme Court hears State Farm fight with policyholder over physician exams

By Gray Rohrer


The Florida Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case brought by a Brevard County woman who sued State Farm after it refused to pay the maximum $100,000 uninsured motorist policy limit when she didn’t submit to an examination by a State Farm-approved physician..

Robin Curran was struck by another vehicle from behind while sitting at a red light in June 2006. No serious physical damage was found immediately after the accident, but by July 2007, Curran had developed “reflex sympathetic dystrophy” — a pain disorder that can go undetected immediately after an incident.

Although part of her contract with State Farm outlines that she must submit to a physical examination by a doctor approved by the insurer before taking the company to court, she did so anyway, prevailing at the trial and appellate court levels.

State Farm attorney Elizabeth Russo argued that denying a claim because a policyholder did not comply with the terms of the policy was a reasonable practice.

“We need to find out what are the injuries … so we have at least the opportunity to find out is this (a claim) that we should pay,” Russo said.

But Justices Fred Lewis and Barbara Pariente wondered why Curran should give up her coverage entirely because a State Farm-approved doctor did not examine her.

“The issue here is whether by not jumping at the point that the insurance company said ‘Come to a medical examination,’ she forfeits her $100,000 of uninsured motorist coverage,” Pariente said.

View the original article here:  http://www.thefloridacurrent.com/article.cfm?id=29615123