Recent Florida Appraisal & Florida Umpire – Related Cases

Recent Florida appellate decisions have clarified issues, resolved conflicts, or otherwise established precedent regarding insurance appraisal and umpire matters.  The following are summaries of recent cases which impact the appraisers and umpires and ultimately Florida trial courts and practitioners.

Law & Ordinance

Jossfolk v. United Property & Casualty Insurance Company,  110 So. 110 (Fla. 4th DCA. 2013).

FACTS: An appraisal award allowed for replacement of two squares of tile roof (220 square feet) for hurricane damage, but in the award the Umpire stated that  “Law and Ordinance” was not appraised.

When the homeowner’s  general contractor applied for a building permit, it concluded that 34% of the roof required repair.  The building department refused to issue the permit ,as the square footage exceeded 25% of the roof, and therefore that the entire roof needed to be replaced  as per the Building Code.

The insured sought appraisal which the carrier declined.

DECISION:  Although the case discusses static law such as  that appraisal is not covered by the Florida Arbitration Code, and issues particular to Florida Civil Procedure,  the important focus was the court’s focus that the insured was entitled to appraisal for Law & Ordinance coverage, regardless of the award, as coverage for Law and Ordinance under this supplemental coverage was not recoverable until it was incurred (in this instance when the permit application was denied) and thus could not have been appraised at the time of the original appraisal.

 Appraisal Awards

Sunshine State Insurance Co. v. Davide,  Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 3rd Dist. 2013  Form & Substance 

Underlying Facts:  Anthony L. Davide (“Davide”) filed a claim wind damage caused to his Miami home by Hurricane Katrina . A dispute arose as to reasonable estimated costs of repair, depreciation, etc. As provided by the policy, an appraisal panel issued its award.   Sunshine asserted that  it was unsure whether the amount awarded had already taken into account deductions for depreciation, or whether Sunshine was to deduct the depreciation from the amount awarded.

In furtherance of it’s’ position, Sunshine made numerous inquiries to the neutral Umpire in an attempt to clarify the issue, but never received a response. Within the sixty days required by the insurance policy, Sunshine paid the amount of the appraisal award but deducted the amount it unilaterally concluded would be the amount of depreciation in the amount of $49,000.

The Homeowner sued, and the case made its way to the Florida Third District Court of Appeal. The homeowner sought the full amount of the award along with its attorney’s fees.

Appellate Decision:  The Appellate court  held that Sunshine unilaterally, and improperly, deducted depreciation, not permitted by the policy and reinstated the full appraisal award and imposed attorney fees, which in this instance,  were almost three times the recovery for improperly withheld depreciation, in the amount of $49,000.00

Overhead & Profit

Trinidad v. Florida Peninsula Ins. Co., 121 So. 3d 433 ( Fla.  2013)

Facts:  This case reached the Florida Supreme Court after the Florida Third District Court of Appeal in In Trinidad v. Florida Peninsula Insurance Co., 99 So.3d 502, 504 (Fla. 3d DCA 2011held that this insurer was not required by either its replacement cost homeowner’s insurance policy or the applicable provisions of section 627.7011, Florida Statutes (2008), to pay the homeowners costs for a general contractor’s overhead and profit  on the basis  because Trinidad did not repair or contract to repair the damage to his home

Recognizing a conflict between the Third District’s Opinion in Trinidad the Second District Court of Appeal’s decision in Goff v. State Farm Florida Insurance Co., 999 So.2d 684 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008), the Florida Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction under Art. V, § 3(b)(3), Fla. Const.[2]

Florida Supreme Court’s Decision. 

Conclusion: The Court held that under Section 627.7011, Florida Statutes (2008), replacement cost insurance includes overhead and profit where the insured is reasonably likely to need a general contractor for repairs regardless of whether the insured actually incurred those costs.  The  Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court to determine whether the insured is reasonably likely to need a general contractor for the repairs that encompass his covered loss.

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