Published by AAPIA on November 7, 2016 http://www.aapia.org/node/1161
Diaz v. Florida Peninsula was ground breaking as the first appellate decision that plainly permits a homeowner to dispute the scope of repairs before they are completed through Managed Repair.
Insurers likely anticipating the decision took note; and even before the decision was made started putting appraisal provisions back into homeowner’s policies to avoid pre-repair lawsuits over scope. In fact, some policies only permit an appraisal demand if the Insurer exercises its repair option.
So, was Diaz a short-lived victory? Does it now force homeowners who want to challenge the scope of repairs to dig into their pockets to pay for an appraiser and potentially share the costs of an umpire? Perhaps, but the decision remains valuable. Diaz may have opened the door to other kinds of pre-repair challenges that will give homeowners a fighting chance take back control over their own home repairs and keep out the Insurer for bad behavior or other misconduct or negligence (i.e. breach and anticipatory breach) where the conduct predates the exercise of the option.
In one case featured on WINKTV news in Ft. Myers, the unscrupulous conduct of the Insurer and repairer got the attention of Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto, chair of the Senate banking and insurance committee. http://www.winknews.com/2016/10/04/homeowner-sues-peoples-trust-insurance-over-allegedly-deceptive-practices/.The best part was the Insurer’s response to why my homeowner client was repeatedly asked to sign a work authorization that said he was agreeing that the repairers’ scope of work would return his home to its pre-loss condition. The problem: no scope had even been provided. Take a look.
Remember at least one Florida Court, in the context of auto insurance, has recognized there are absolutely circumstances that justify the Insured’s refusal to honor the insurer’s exercise of its “option”. Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Green, 220 So. 2d 29 (Fla. 1st DCA 1969). See, Justified Refusal to Honor the Insurer’s Decision to Repair, by Jill Henniger Bowman. http://www.aapia.org/node/562. Exactly which “circumstances” justify refusal remains an open question. Stay tuned on that.
And, then there is always fighting the old fashioned way – after a botched repair job. http://www.abcactionnews.com/money/consumer/taking-action-for-you/it-is-a-new-trend-in-insurance-but-some-policy-holders-say-it-is-a-devastating-practice.In other words, filing suit like the Morales family in Tampa did after their “managed repair” went wrong. Most importantly, the growing problem with Managed Repair is getting the attention of the right people – like Senator Benacquisto. This is a critical first step toward putting homeowners back in charge their own home repairs. Refuse to accept the status quo and let the chips fall where they may. Managed Repair must go along with abusive assignment of benefits to right the ship for Florida homeowners.