Q: I have a pending sinkhole claim with Homewise and now the Florida Gauranty association is on the job. Received a letter today confirming their involvement, and that any payments made on the claim will be paid directly to contractors performing the repairs. The insured will be resposible for the any amounts over the policy limits. I read that the new bill specifies that if a covered building suffers a sinkhole loss or catastrophic ground cover collapse, the insured must repair such damage in accordance with the insurer’s professional engineer’s recommended repairs. However, if repairs cannot be completed within policy limits, the insurer has the option to either pay to complete the recommended repairs or tender policy limits. Does the Florida Gauranty association have another set of laws or what?
I have received the same letter in the past several days on all my Homewise client’s files. Frankly, we are happy to see some movement, any movement on these files. What FIGA, or the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, is citing in their letters is, and has been, the law here in florida for some time so I would not expect anything contained in the new law to play a role in these cases. To answer your question in short, yes, FIGA does play by different rules than insurance carriers. It abides by a separate set of Statutes and has numerous protections afforded by the State contained in these statutes. For example, FIGA has a limit of liability of $300,000. It will never be required to pay more than that. FIGA also can not be threatened with attorney fee exposure like we typically see with insurance carriers. For Homweise insureds who receive these letters the most important point is that you only have one year to either get the claim resolved with FIGA or to file a lawsuit so pay attention to your timelines and don’t get lost in the shuffle, be proactive.