In Safepoint Ins. Co. v. Hallet, 46 Fla. L. Weekly D1504a (Fla. 5th DCA 6.25.21), the Fifth District confirmed insureds (and their public adjusters where requested) must comply with an insurer’s EUO and document requests even after appraiser is invoked. The case involved a loss following a burst kitchen pipe. Safepoint admitted coverage but the Insureds disputed the amount of the insurance payments. Safepoint demanded appraisal. After the appraisal process started, Safepoint retained counsel (Mr. Curt Allen) and “demanded twenty-four categories of documents, sworn proofs of loss, and examinations under oath of, among others, the Hallets, their children, their Public Adjuster, and their plumber across twenty-five areas of inquiry.”
The Insureds provided a sworn proof of loss and also appeared for their EUOs along with their Public Adjuster. Safepoint’s counsel proceeded to take a 12-hour EUO of Mr. Hallet over the course of two days and conducted a 2 ½ hour EUO of Mrs. Hallet. The Insureds’ Public Adjuster did not appear for his re-set EUO due to a scheduling conflict, and then did not appear again after Safepoint unilaterally scheduled it for the following day. Safepoint subsequently denied coverage based on the Insureds’ failure to comply with the Policy’s post-loss obligations.
The Insureds filed a declaratory action seeking to complete appraisal, seeking a declaration that they complied with their post-loss duties, and seeking a declaration that Safepoint waived its right to collect post-loss information upon initiating appraisal. The trial court granted the Insureds’ motion.
However, the Fifth District reversed. The Court held that the plain language of the policy “does not condition Safepoint’s ability to garner post-loss information on the state or existence of the appraisal process.” Instead, the policy provides that the insureds “may not sue Safepoint unless they have complied with ‘all of’ the policy’s terms.” The Court further recognized that “the policy’s post-loss cooperation provisions are untethered from its appraisal provisions,” and that the policy allows Safepoint to ask for post-loss information “as often as it reasonably requires.”
Notably, the Fifth District instructed the Clerk to send a copy of its opinion to the Florida Bar “for whatever further action it deems appropriate” based on Safepoint’s counsel’s improper EUO conduct. In a footnote, the Court noted: “Taken as a whole, Allen’s repetitive and argumentative examinations illustrate he was more interested in making the process as long and painful as possible, rather than gathering information about the Hallets’ claim.”
If you are a Florida homeowner who has a property insurance claim, call a Murray & Murray attorney today at 1-855-269-4317 for a free consultation. We’re here to help.