Bad Faith Ruling in Florida Could Spell Trouble For Insurers

A recent ruling from the state’s highest court may make it even tougher for insurers to defend against “bad faith” claims, even when the insurer has paid 100% of an insurance policy’s limits. The ruling concerns an $8.4 million dollar verdict that was returned by a  Palm Beach County jury even though the policy limit was only $100,000 and the insurer tendered the full amount eight days after an automobile accident. 

“This case should raise red flags,” said Irene M. Porter, one of the name partners at Hicks, Porter, Ebenfeld and Stein, a recognized expert in the field of bad faith insurance litigation. 

In  Harvey v. GEICO General Insurance Co., No. SC17-85, So. 3d (Fla. Sept. 20, 2018), the court let the verdict stand, reversing he Fourth District Court of Appeals, which found that GEICO had fulfilled every obligation it owed its insured. 

“The reason this is dangerous is that opens a door for extracontractual demands if a plaintiff can show that there was any kind of processing error by the insurer, even if the error is corrected almost immediatel,” Porter said. 

Gary Swing