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Florida Insurance Law: Understanding Your Insurer’s Duty to Defend


Most Broward County homeowners have some level of liability insurance. This coverage will provide you with certain protections in the event that you are sued by another person. Under Section 627.4137 of the Florida Statutes, insurance companies that offer liability coverage are subject to certain disclosure requirements. In the event that a lawsuit is filed against the policyholder, and the property insurance coverage is implicated, the insurance company has a legal duty to defend the claim

Unfortunately, in practice, the big insurance companies do not always live up to their end of the bargain. In far too many cases, insurers try to get away with not defending third-party claims, thereby leaving the homeowner to deal with the case on their own. In this post, our Fort Lauderdale third-party coverage disputes attorneys highlight the most important things you need to know about your insurer’s duty to defend you in a third-party liability case.

Your Insurance Company Must Properly Investigate the Claim   

To start, your homeowners’ liability insurer has a duty to fully and fairly investigate the claim that is being brought against you. The only way that an insurance company will be able to properly assess whether or not it actually has a duty to defend the claim in a specific case is to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the third-party lawsuit that is being brought against the homeowner. Adequate due diligence is always required. 

Insurance Companies Must Defend Against Allegations – Not Facts 

Your insurance company has a duty to defend you against any allegations that are covered under your policy. Notably, the insurance company must assess its obligation to defend based solely on the allegations being leveled against you, not on its view of the actual underlying facts of the case. This is a very important distinction.

An insurance company must provide a strong defense to the insured even if the company believes that the allegations are untrue or there is no actual liability. In assessing whether or not there is a duty to defend, the insurer must simply analyze whether or not the coverage would be implicated if the third party were to prevail in their case. 

Bad Faith Damages May Be Available if the Insurer Refuses to Defend  

In the event that the insurance company unfairly declines to defend you against a third-party legal claim, you may be able to collect compensation in excess of the policy limit. If it is determined that the insurance company abrogated its duty to defend in bad faith, then additional compensation can be made available.

Get Help With Your Third-Party Coverage Claim Today  

At Geyer Fuxa Tyler, we have extensive experience handling complex third-party coverage dispute cases. If your insurance company wrongly failed to defend your claim or to indemnify you, we can help. Please contact us today for a free case review. With an office in Sunrise, our law firm serves policyholders throughout Broward County, Florida, including in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and Miramar.


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