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Insurance Agent Malpractice FAQs

Fri Apr 30th, 2021 on     Insurance Claims,    

Our Miami Insurance Claim Lawyer Can Answer Your Questions

If you’ve had your insurance claim denied or undervalued by your insurer, it’s possible that your expectations for coverage are not aligned with your “actual” coverage.  These expectations may have been set by an insurance agent who lied, cheated, or otherwise manipulated you into believing that you had broader and more comprehensive coverage than the reality.  In some cases, they may have simply been ignorant as to the coverage granted by an insurance contract, and thereby misled you into signing on.

Though you may be feeling hurt, betrayed, and vulnerable, it’s important to understand that insurance agent malpractice is not necessarily uncommon — and you may have a right of action to sue and recover damages under Florida law.

Our Miami insurance claim lawyer is here to help.

Ver Ploeg & Marino, P.A. is a Miami-based insurance litigation firm, with a focus on providing efficient, client-oriented legal representation and achieving positive results.  We handle a wide range of insurance-related disputes, including those that center around insurance agent malpractice.  Our team is more than capable of obtaining positive results at every phase of litigation, whether in initial settlement negotiations or at trial.

Over the years, our team has developed a trial-ready approach to navigating insurance disputes.

Unfortunately, insurance agents often take advantage of policyholders by making false promises and other overtures that are intended to mislead the prospective policyholder into signing onto a contract that does not actually contain the protections that they’ve been led to believe exist.  This can surprise policyholders, who trusted the insurance agent to provide clear and unambiguous information.

Fortunately, there are paths to recovery.  Florida law gives policyholders a right of action against insurance agents who defrauded them or otherwise failed to act in accordance with expectations.

If you’d like to speak to a seasoned Miami insurance claim lawyer about your dispute, we encourage you to contact us to schedule a consultation at your earliest convenience.  We look forward to speaking with you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What duties are owed by an insurance agent under Florida law?

Insurance agents have several duties: a) the duty to exercise reasonable care in securing insurance coverage that aligns with the specific requests of their client; b) the duty to consider the requests and stated needs of their client when obtaining insurance coverage, and c) the duty to notify the client about availability issues, and to explain the nature of the coverage obtained.

Failure to meet these duties can give rise to an actionable malpractice claim.

It can be quite difficult to understand where, exactly, the insurance agent failed in their duties.  As such, we encourage policyholders to seek the guidance of an experienced Miami insurance claim lawyer — they will evaluate the duties of the insurance agent and help you navigate the next steps.

What happens if my insurance agent didn’t advise me on insurance coverage?  Do I have a claim for malpractice against them?

Your insurance agent does not have a duty to advise you about your insurance coverage unless you have specifically requested such advising, or unless they have “held themselves out” to provide such advising services.

For example, if an insurance agent advertises themselves as a “comprehensive” assistant who will advise you against poor, restrictive insurance contracts, then you could argue that they have a duty to advise you (even if you did not make any special requests).

If the insurance agent has a duty to advise (i.e., through advertising these services), then you could have a malpractice claim against them for failing to do so.

For an insurance agent malpractice claim, is it necessary to show that my insurance agent “intentionally” misled me into signing the contract?

It is not necessary to show that your insurance agent intentionally misled you (thus getting you to sign on).  It is, however, important that you show that you reasonably relied on their representations when signing on and that those representations have resulted in your damages.

For example, suppose that your insurance agent misled you into believing that your home insurance contract included coverage for flooding.  You later discover that it did not.  The insurance contract expires, and you never had to submit an insurance claim for flooding.  Despite the fact that the insurance agent committed “malpractice,” you would not have a right of action against the agent, as you did not actually suffer damages linked to their misconduct.

Now, it’s important to understand that — under Florida law — insurance agent malpractice claims can arise in situations involving mere negligence.  If the insurance agent fails to adhere to any of their duties, then you could ostensibly sue and recover damages.  As such, the insurance agent may not have been malevolent or fraudulent about anything in particular, but can still be held liable for simply failing to act reasonably and inform you in accordance with their legal duties.

For example, insurance agents are required to consider the explicitly defined needs of the client when obtaining insurance coverage.  If you explicitly requested that your insurance agent obtain home insurance that included coverage for flooding, and they fail to do so, then you would have a legitimate and actionable malpractice claim against them (assuming that you submit an insurance claim for flooding damages and are denied).

How do punitive damages work?

Punitive damages are awarded by the court when the defendant has engaged in willful and/or malicious misconduct (i.e., in situations involving insurance agents who have lied to manipulate you into signing onto an insurance contract).  They are awarded rather infrequently, and at the court’s discretion, but are still worth pursuing when available.  Punitive damages operate as “bonus” damages and can lead to significant, positive outcomes.

For example, suppose that an insurance agent lies to you, and you sign onto an insurance contract.  You later have a claim for $100,000 in damages denied by the insurer.  It turns out that the agent’s lie is directly linked to the denial of your claim.  You sue the insurance agent for malpractice.  The court awards you $800,000 — $100,000 for the damages owed, but also $700,000 in punitive damages given the misconduct of the insurance agent.

Have Questions? Speak to Our Miami Insurance Claim Lawyer Today

If you have concerns about your dealings with an insurance agent, do not hesitate to contact a Miami insurance claim lawyer at VPM right away. We can advise you based on the specifics of your individual situation. We look forward to helping you.

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