Fourth District Court of Appeal–Coverage Issues Must be Determined Before Court-Ordered Appraisal
Feb 8, 2010
By Maria Elena Abate, Shareholder
In a recent Fourth District Court of Appeal decision involving a supplemental Hurricane Wilma claim, a unanimous three-judge panel determined that a court-ordered appraisal was “premature” because the insurer disputed whether the claimed losses were covered by the policy and whether the insureds had complied with the policy requirements.
The case, Sunshine State Insurance Company v. Corridori, 2010 WL 36599 (Fla. 4th DCA Feb 3, 2010), thus establishes that a “trial court must resolve all underlying coverage disputes prior to ordering an appraisal.”
Sunshine State had adjusted and paid the initial claim. Two years later, after a “supplemental claim” was made for “damages discovered by a public adjuster,” the insurance company requested a sworn proof of loss within ninety days. The subsequent submission by the insured was late, incomplete and inaccurate.
Concluding that the “damages claimed were not in fact supplemental to the original damages,” Sunshine State denied the claim, citing breach of contract by the insureds for failing to comply with the proof of loss requirement.”
The insureds then filed a petition to compel appraisal. “Without taking any evidence,” the trial court concluded that there had been no breach by the insured and ordered appraisal.
On February 3, 2010, the Fourth District Court reversed and remanded this decision for a resolution of the coverage disputes.
The decision, which can be viewed by clicking here, is not final until the disposition of any timely-filed motion for rehearing.