Third District Court of Appeal–Citizens’ Homeowners Policy Conditions Must Be Met to Trigger Appraisal Provisions

Nov 27, 2010 | By

 

On November 24, 2010, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal issued an opinion in Citizens Property Insurance Corporation v. Galeria Villas Condominium Association, Inc., 2010 WL 4740049 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2010), in which it re-established that policy conditions and post-loss obligations must be met in order for a request for an appraisal to be “ripe.” 

In Citizens v. Galeria, the Court found that the appraisal provisions of the homeowner’s policy at issue were not triggered because Galeria did not provide Citizens with a reasonable opportunity to investigate and adjust the claim.  Thus, no “disagreement” had arisen.  Galeria had refused to comply with certain policy conditions and post-loss duties by failing to provide Citizens with requested documentation and refusing to allow Citizens’ loss consultant to inspect the property. 

As a side issue and in reliance on its recent decision in Sunshine State Ins. Co. v. Rawlins, 34 So. 3d 753 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010) the Third District Court noted that the lower court “has the discretion to control the order in which an appraisal and coverage determinations proceed.” (Galeria Villas Condominium Association, 2010 WL 4740049.)

The Rawlins decision and now the Galeria decision are in direct conflict with the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s recent opinion in  Citizens Property Insurance Corporation v. Michigan Condominium Association, 2010 WL 4226281 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010).  Essentially, the Third District permits courts to order appraisals prior to, and while reserving jurisdiction on, the determination of coverage issues. 

The Fourth District’s opinion disagrees with this “dual-track” approach, holding that liability on coverage issues must precede the determination of damages, i.e. the appraisal.  (Michigan Condominium Association, 2010 WL 4226281 at *1.) 

The Fourth District has certified the conflict between its opinion and Rawlins.  The Supreme Court of Florida may decide to hear the issue and resolve the conflict.

 

Should you have any questions or comments, please contact Colodny Fass.