Legal Counsel for Florida Insurance Agents and Brokers
Nov 21, 2014
When most people think of insurance disputes, policyholder claims first come to mind. But what about when a Florida insurance agent or agency needs legal counsel?
For 40 years, the Colodny Fass law firm has built a solid reputation as one of the top insurance defense teams in Florida. As part of our extensive Insurance Litigation, Defense and Appellate practices, we’ve also successfully handled a wide variety of matters relating directly to insurance agents and agencies.
For an agent, his or her license is a primary function of business. Florida’s complex regulations, particularly where it concerns agent licensing, can often present challenges relating to contract disputes, trade practices, compliance, ethics, and even discrimination or coercion complaints.
Errors and Omissions
When insurance agents, brokers or their staff are sued for damages in claims expenses arising out of any covered act, error or omission that results in failure to render professional services for clients, Colodny Fass attorneys can help. We have handled complex insurance disputes in all lines of coverage, at all levels of litigation, and are highly knowledgeable in Florida’s Insurance Code and administrative law procedures.
We are respected for our outstanding record of insurer representation in commercial litigation, as well as complex and high-risk matters such as class action litigation, bad faith claims and other fact-intensive, multi-party lawsuits requiring superior organizational skills and complex trial experience. Also known for our success at the trial and appellate levels, Colodny Fass has consistently prevailed on a wide range of issues.
Duties and obligations—pivotal words subject to myriad interpretations—have substantial implications for agents and brokers. When it comes to recommending litigation strategy, Colodny Fass lawyers know from experience that prevention is the best remedy. That’s why we’ve been called upon by organizations like the Florida Association of Insurance Agents, the Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies and the National African American Insurance Association to counsel their members on best practices—not only in day-to-day business, but in all areas of the law, including fiduciary duties, ethics, contractual obligations and special relationships.
Further, Colodny Fass’ extensive representation of surplus lines brokers, insurers and managing general agencies enables us to understand the needs of this unique market, both in Florida and on a state-by-state basis.
For an agent or broker, a license is a primary function of business. Florida’s complex regulations, particularly where it concerns agent licensing, commissions, disclosures and confidentiality requirements, can often present challenges relating to contract disputes, trade practices, compliance, ethics, and even discrimination or coercion complaints.
As a general rule, an agent or broker is not a guarantor of the financial condition or solvency of an insurer from which he or she obtains coverage for a client. Agents’ general duty to exercise reasonable skill and diligence in selecting a financially stable insurance carrier, coupled with the prevailing circumstances at the time of the selection is often the target of litigation that can result in the loss of licensing, monetary damages or even criminal penalties.
Preventing unnecessary errors and omissions (E & O) litigation is a paramount goal of our work with insurance agents and brokers, whose exposure can include claims like breach of duty, misrepresentation, fraud or inadequate coverage.
When insurance agents, brokers or their staff are sued for damages arising out of any covered act, error or omission that results in failure to render professional services for clients, Colodny Fass attorneys can help.
We handle complex matters pertaining to all lines of insurance coverage at all levels of litigation, and are highly versed in Florida’s Insurance Code and administrative law procedures.
In these types of cases, our relationships with Florida’s regulatory agencies has been a valuable aspect of our work, yielding insight to help develop litigation strategy toward faster, more cost-effective outcomes, often reaching a settlement long before a full trial—an approach that has earned our clients’ loyalty and appreciation.
Meet Our Insurance Agent and Broker Advocates
Maria Elena Abate, Esq.
Managing Litigation Shareholder
In her representation of insurers, agents and agencies, reinsurers, brokers, third-party administrators and other insurance-related entities, Maria Elena Abate focuses on insurance defense, complex commercial litigation and other high-risk matters; bad faith and class action defense; and employment law.
Her high standards in the courtroom for the past two decades have earned her a coveted membership in the Claims and Litigation Management (“CLM”) Alliance, where she has been recognized with leadership positions.
As part of her client representation, she often provides training to insurance agents and brokers, and has made numerous presentations together with Florida regulators on the status of the statewide insurance market. She routinely counsels clients in the practical application of statutory and regulatory revisions to Florida’s insurance laws in regard to litigation matters.
Ms. Abate has successfully handled numerous appeals in state and federal courts and administrative tribunals, and is admitted to practice in all Florida courts, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court. She is a graduate of the University of Miami School of Law, cum laude.
Sharlee Hobbs Edwards, Esq.
Having formerly served Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation and Department of Financial Services’ Division of Workers’ Compensation as a senior attorney, Sharlee Hobbs Edwards affords valuable insight into agency and governmental functions, as well as the handling of administrative procedures.
Ms. Edwards handles a broad array of insurance-related matters relating to licensure, errors and omissions coverage, reporting requirements, market conduct examinations, and other regulatory issues. In resolving disputes with agencies, she regularly interacts with insurance regulators and drafts related legal pleadings.
A member of The Florida Bar’s Administrative Law Section, as well as the American Bar Association’s Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Sections, Ms. Edwards is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Law.
Amy L. Koltnow, Esq.
Amy Koltnow oversees complex insurance litigation matters and has represented agents with licensing matters before the Florida Department of Financial Services. A former prosecutor, she has considerable jury trial experience and has served as lead attorney in cases involving various insurance-related disputes.
Also a CLM member, she was formerly an attorney for the U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance Division and Assistant State Attorney for the State Attorney’s Office in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
A graduate of the Stetson University College of Law, she is admitted to practice in all Florida trial and appellate courts, as well as the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Matthew C. Scarfone, Esq.
Matthew C. Scarfone focuses his practice on complex insurance defense matters, including agent and broker-related matters.
A member of the Michigan and Florida Bars, he earned his Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law, summa cum laude. He is admitted to practice in all Florida state courts and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
With Colodny Fass tapped frequently to represent various national and high-profile insurance trade associations, Mr. Scarfone recently filed several amicus curiae briefs on behalf of these insurance organizations in appeals.