Florida injury and accident lawyer, Guy S. DiMartino, reminds people applying for Florida insurance to answer all questions correctly on the application.
A car insurance policy or a homeowner's insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurance company. The agreement is that you will pay the premium and the insurance will make payment if there is a loss that is covered under the insurance policy. This loss can range from broken windshield in your car to a broken window in your home.
The Florida Insurance Application Process
Nowadays there are two ways that most insurance can be purchased: (1) in person through an insurance agent; and (2) on line. The process is pretty much the same. You will be required to fill out the application, pay the premium and the insurance company will bind the policy. In between the time the time that you apply for the insurance and the time that you receive the policy – the insurance company will go through an underwriting process to determine if they want to write the policy.
The insurance application has a number of questions that will rate the applicant. The rating process is an attempt to determine if the applicant is an excellent, good, fair or poor risk. Questions regarding bankruptcy, dangerous behaviors, traffic infractions and criminal matters are used in the rating process.
The information you put in the Florida insurance application Must Be Correct
The information that you provide when making a Florida insurance application has to be correct. If the information is incorrect, whether intentional or not, and the information is material to the policy, the insurance company can void the policy. The voiding of the policy will usually occur once a claim is made and then the applicant will have no insurance. Auto insurance and homeowners insurance companies do not spend a lot of time or money in the initial underwriting process because it is not cost effective; however, if there is a claim that will look into the application to make sure the information is correct.
The Most Frequent Misrepresentation in Florida Insurance Applications
Based on my experience, the most frequent misrepresentation in the car insurance application has to do with the disclosure of people living in the household that are driving age. Many times when folks fill out this information online or when an insurance agent asks the questions – they say to themselves “this person will not be driving my car” or “this person really doesn't drive” or something else along these lines. The question is usually framed something like this:
- Please provide the names of all people over 16 years of age living in the household.
So this is what happens. The person who was an unlisted driver ends up driving the car and is involved in an accident – a claim is made- the insurance denies the claim because the applicant did not disclose that the driver in the household on the application.
In the homeowner's context – the misrepresentation has to do with past structural damage, whether it be a sinkhole claim or other structural damage claim.
In both applications – failing to disclose past bankruptcies, criminal convictions and dangerous activities. If you make a Florida insurance claim, the insurance company starts talking about a material misrepresentation in the application, it will be on good footing to deny the claim if the following is shown:
- The statement was false; and
- If the correct information was on the application, the insurance company would not have written the policy or would have charged a higher premium.
Florida Statute 627.409 says it this way:
(1)?Any statement or description made by or on behalf of an insured or annuitant in an application for an insurance policy or annuity contract, or in negotiations for a policy or contract, is a representation and is not a warranty. A misrepresentation, omission, concealment of fact, or incorrect statement may prevent recovery under the contract or policy only if any of the following apply:
(a)?The misrepresentation, omission, concealment, or statement is fraudulent or is material either to the acceptance of the risk or to the hazard assumed by the insurer.
(b)?If the true facts had been known to the insurer pursuant to a policy requirement or other requirement, the insurer in good faith would not have issued the policy or contract, would not have issued it at the same premium rate, would not have issued a policy or contract in as large an amount, or would not have provided coverage with respect to the hazard resulting in the loss.
As you can see, there are a number of pitfalls in dealing with insurance companies. Most people do not even realize that it is a problem until it's too late. Florida car accident and homeowners insurance law is complex. If you have any questions, call Guy S. DiMartino, DC, JD at (352) 267-9168 or fill out the internet consultation form on the right side of the screen.
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