Monday, June 27, 2011

Untimely Claim Reporting & Late Acceptance Of Proposal For Settlement

In Kroener v. Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (4D09-3604 & 4D09-4102), the Fourth District affirmed two orders entered by the circuit court "(1) final summary judgment entered in favor of the Florida Insurance Guarantee Association (FIGA) on their claim for hurricane damage, and (2) denial of their motion to enforce FIGA’s proposal for settlement, which the Kroeners attempted to accept after entry of the final summary judgment."

The appellant's purchased the property in 2007. "When the hurricane struck, however, the prior owners were not residing in the home. They had moved out shortly before the hurricane to rent it out. Although the prior owners were aware of some damage from Hurricane Wilma, they never notified Atlantic of their property damage losses or made a claim on their homeowners’ policy. Sometime after the prior owners sold their home to the Kroeners, the Kroeners discovered a roof leak, which their contractor attributed to Hurricane Wilma. At the request of the Kroeners, on December 5, 2007, the prior owners executed an Assignment of Benefits form..." 

"FIGA filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the previous owners had no claim to assign, and no insurable interest, by the time they executed an assignment to the Kroeners, and that the policy’s timely notice requirements had been violated. FIGA further contended that, as a matter of law, a two-year delay for a hurricane loss claim is a violation of the policy’s conditions precedents, without the need to prove prejudice." On the day before the summary judgment hearing, FIGA served a proposal for settlement. The appellants attempted to accept the proposal for settlement after the trial court granted FIGA's summary judgment motion.

With regard to the timely reporting of the claim, the Fourth District held:
Although the trial court entered final summary judgment for FIGA under several theories, we agree with the trial court’s ruling that, as a matter of law, notice to the insurer of a claim of loss more than two years and two months after the loss occurred was not prompt notice; the untimely reporting of the loss violated the insurance policy and was sufficient to bar the claim.
With regard to the proposal for settlement issue, the court held:
As discussed above, the courts which permit acceptance of an offer after a court has entered summary judgment rely on the proposition that the offer is absolutely irrevocable. In Florida, however, the proposal for settlement is revocable at any time before its acceptance by the offeror, Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.442(e). Further, we find more persuasive the reasoning of the courts that preclude a party’s ability to accept a pending offer of judgment after the grant of final summary judgment. This is more in accord with the reasoning of our courts, which do not allow a party to accept an offer of judgment after trial has commenced or a verdict has been announced because it would frustrate the purpose of Rule 1.442 to encourage settlement, obviate the necessity of protracted litigation, and ―totally defeat the ends of justice and allow a mockery of the judicial system." Braham, 514 So. 2d at 73. 


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