Under Florida Statute § 624.155, any person may bring a civil action against an insurer when such person is damaged by the insurer’s violation of statutory provisions. First party bad faith claims must be brought against the insurance company pursuant to § 624.155, but third-party bad faith claims may be pursued under common law or the statute. However, a third-party plaintiff is not entitled to a judgment under both remedies.
It is important that those insured be aware and understand exactly what actions are characterized as bad faith claims adjusting because bad faith can occur in any insurance claim. When dealing with your insurance company, keep an eye out for bad faith actions and document any actions or nonactions made by your insurance company and its representatives, so that they may be held responsible for their actions later on. Some actions by insurance company representatives that may be considered bad faith include:
- Denying a claim before conducting a reasonable investigation
- Failure to make a good faith settlement offer when the insurer could and should have done so
- Delaying a settlement when the agreement to settle is reasonably clear
- Not acknowledging or acting quickly to communicate with the insured
- Failure to pay undisputed amounts within 90 days after being notified of the loss/damage
As a condition precedent to filing a bad faith action, the insured or its legal representative must electronically file a civil remedy notice or a “CRN” with the Florida Department of Financial Services (“DFS”). The insured must give notice to DFS and the insurance company, at least sixty days prior to filing a bad faith claim. This affords insurers an opportunity to cure any statutory violations within 60 days starting from the date that the CRN is electronically filed, not when it is received. If an insurance company cures the statutory violations listed in the CRN within 60 days, no further action may be pursued by the insured on such violations. If an insurer fails to respond to a CRN within sixty days, a presumption of bad faith will be created, and the insurance company will have the burden of rebutting or the violations claimed in the CRN will be taken as true.
DFS does not get involved in pre-suit activities, but DFS may return any CRN within twenty days after filing that does not provide the specific information required to the insured, indicating the specific information that is missing in the notice. Although an insured’s lack of specificity relating to the required information does not entitle DFS to return the notice. A CRN should include the reason(s) that the insurer is in violation of the statute(s) claimed in the notice with the specific language and the specific policy language relevant to each violation. An insured must describe the details related to the claimed violation(s) with particularity, including the facts and circumstances that give rise to the insurer’s violation.
Remember that just because your insurance company denies your claim, it does not automatically mean you have grounds for a bad faith claim. Consider speaking with an attorney who can help you better understand the situation and the rights you may have in your current situation.