Florida Appeals Court Rules That Insured Parties Are Only Allowed One Appraisal
On March 22, 2017, the Florida Third District Court of Appeal issued a decision in the case of Orlando Noa v. Florida Insurance Guaranty Association. In the case, the appeals court ruled that property owners may not circumvent an appraisal by applying for permits for more repairs than the appraisal awarded. Here, our Broward County property insurance lawyers discuss the decision, as well as its implications for homeowners and business owners in the state.
In October of 2005, Orlando Noa’s home was damaged by Hurricane Wilma. Mr. Noa submitted a claim to his insurer, and the company sent out an adjuster to evaluate the loss. According to the adjuster, Mr. Noa’s total damages were less than his policy’s $4,440 deductible. Three years later, Mr. Noa submitted a supplemental claim for the same underlying damages, this time with a proof of loss statement that indicated that the cost to repair Hurricane Wilma damage was more than $70,000. Eventually, a third party appraiser was brought in, and he evaluated the damage at $17,602.10. The insurance company then paid this amount.
Law and Ordinance Problems
Mr. Noa used the proceeds from the appraisal to employ a contractor to repair his roof. However, this contractor found that 30 percent of the roof needed to be replaced, unlike the appraisal panel that determined that only 3 percent of the roof needed to be replaced. Not only was the gap large, but it was made much larger by the fact that Miami-Dade County has an ordinance that limits roof repairs to those that are less than 25 percent, and requires entire roof replacement if repairs exceed 25 percent. Mr. Noa relented and signed a contract for a full replacement, which cost him nearly $18,000 more than the insurance company paid him. Mr. Noa submitted an amended claim requesting an additional $18,000 for law and ordinance coverage. The company denied his amended claim.
The Court Decision
The appeals court ruled in favor of the insurance company, holding that a contractor could not act as a “super-umpire” to overrule the findings of the appraisal panel. In this case, the appraisers determined only 3 percent of the roof was damaged, and a contractor could not subsequently overturn that decision simply by applying to the local building authority for more repairs. If additional hidden damage was discovered by the contractor, the correct action would have been to ask to re-open and amend the appraisal award to account for the newly discovered damage – in this case the additional 27 percent that needed repairs. Once that was properly appraised and accounted for, the insured could then apply to the building authorities for a permit, and seek law and ordinance benefits.
Was Your Property Insurance Claim Denied?
The experienced Fort Lauderdale property insurance attorneys at Geyer Fuxa Tyler can help. We have extensive experience handling a wide variety of insurance claims, including those involving appraisal rights. To set up your free, no-obligation case evaluation, please contact us today at (954) 990-5251. We serve property owners throughout Broward County, including in Deerfield Beach, Hollywood and Coral Springs.