Can You Sue Your Insurance Agent for Their Mistakes?
In Florida, insurance litigation disputes — often involving over-broad and unexpected policy exclusions — may lead one to question the liability of their insurance agent. After all, if the insurance agent obtained the policy on your behalf, it’s possible that they have not satisfied their obligations and have somehow misled you into entering into an insurance agreement that did not adequately meet your needs.
In the event that your insurance agent failed to adhere to their duties, you may be entitled to sue them for negligence (and thereby recover damages for the losses over which your insurer has refused to extend coverage). There are, of course, limits to consider — the law does not grant you an absolute right of action against your insurance agent. Arguably, every dispute over a denied insurance claim is (to some degree) unexpected, or else you would not have agreed to it in the first place. Determination of whether or not you have a claim against your insurance agent is a question best addressed by a Miami bad faith insurance attorney at Ver Ploeg & Marino (VPM).
DUTIES OWED BY THE INSURANCE AGENT
Insurance agents in Florida owe a number of duties to the insured (their client). Pursuant to currently applicable case law, they must:
- Exercise reasonable care in securing insurance coverage that the client has specifically requested, and notify the client as to any issues regarding its availability;
- Properly consider the explicitly-defined needs of the client when obtaining insurance coverage; and
- Inform and explain the coverage that has been secured at the client’s direction.
This can be difficult to take in all at once! Consider the following examples for clarity.
EXAMPLES OF BREACH OF DUTY BY AN INSURANCE AGENT
Suppose that you engage with an insurance agent to obtain comprehensive liability coverage for your retail business. Eventually, you have to submit an insurance claim — it is promptly denied by the insurer, however. As it turns out, the insurance agent obtained coverage that involved several significant policy exclusions, despite you requesting that there be no significant “blind spots” in coverage. Depending on how specific you were regarding your coverage needs, you could ostensibly sue the agent for malpractice.
Another example would be if you live on the coast in Florida, and you have advised your agent that you will require coverage for hurricanes, yet they fail to ensure there is hurricane coverage or a hurricane coverage rider for the policy you purchase. When this happens, you could possibly have a claim against the insurance agent.
DAMAGES AVAILABLE WHEN YOU SUCCESSFULLY SUE YOUR INSURANCE AGENT
The compensation you receive for a loss suffered due to your insurance agent should be the amount that is necessary to place you in the same position you would have been in had the negligence never occurred. Therefore, If you suffer a loss due to the negligence of your insurance agent, then the agent is required to pay damages equivalent to the full losses that you have suffered as a consequence of their particular acts and may have to pay you for consequential damages as well. For example, if the insurance agent failed to secure the insurance needed to cover fire damage to your home, and because of this you are required to spend an additional 30 days in a hotel while the matter is addressed, the additional time spent in a hotel is consequential damage. A Miami bad faith insurance attorney can advise you as to what those losses may be.
EXISTENCE OF A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP
Importantly, insurance agents have no general duty to advise their clients as to their insurance coverage needs. Normally, for example, you cannot sue your insurance agent for failing to advise you as to how much coverage you should ideally secure (given your needs).
Still, the duty to advise clients of the type and amount of insurance coverage necessary to reasonably and prudently meet the client’s insurance objectives may activate under certain circumstances. Florida courts (in recent court decisions, such as Tiara Condominium Association v. Marsh, USA, Inc.) have held that a duty to advise may be imposed on insurance agents who have established a “special relationship” with the insured client.
Our Miami bad faith insurance attorney holds that whether or not a “special relationship” exists depends on a number of factors, such as the agent’s marketing efforts (i.e., holding themselves out as a professional advisor), their level of engagement with the insured, and whether they are being paid to provide additional advisory services.
WHY YOU SHOULD RETAIN A MIAMI BAD FAITH INSURANCE ATTORNEY
When you are considering filing a lawsuit against your insurance agent, there are several reasons you should consider retaining a Miami bad faith insurance attorney to advise and guide you through the process. Consider the following:
- A lawyer that is well-versed in insurance law and holding insurance agents liable will conduct a thorough review of your case and determine your chance of being successful, as well as the value of your lawsuit
- A Miami bad faith insurance attorney will have a plethora of useful tools at their disposal, such as industry experts that are willing to testify on your behalf
- An attorney will know the applicable federal, state, and local laws that will help best support your case
A Miami bad faith insurance attorney from VPM can assist with all aspects of your claim against
your insurance agent.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN INSURANCE AGENT AND AN INSURANCE BROKER
An insurance agent typically represents a particular insurance company. When you go to them to purchase insurance, they will attempt to sell you a policy from a company that they represent. On the other hand, an insurance broker is able to sell policies from a number of different companies and does not represent any one particular insurance company. Whether or not you purchased your insurance policy from an insurance agent or an insurance broker can have an impact on your ability to recover compensation for your loss. Because of this, it is best to be clear on which you dealt with and consult with a Miami bad faith insurance attorney on the impact it has.
CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED MIAMI BAD FAITH INSURANCE ATTORNEY
Ver Ploeg & Marino, P.A. is a Miami-based insurance litigation firm that has represented numerous clients in disputes with their insurers and insurance agents/brokers, including those that involve malpractice claims. We believe that the key to success in litigation is the provision of personalized legal representation, and as such, we work closely with clients from the beginning of the litigation process to ensure that their case is fully evaluated and that their objectives are being considered throughout.Contact us via our website or call (305) 577-3996 to speak with an experienced Miami bad faith insurance attorney here at Ver Ploeg & Marino, P.A. Consultation is free and confidential. We look forward to assisting you.Share