How much time do you have to file an insurance claim? In Florida, all claims are governed by the applicable statute of limitations as well as applicable provisions contained within the insurance policy. Generally, speaking one has five (5) years from the date of incident to file a breach of contract claim.
Whether or not a lawsuit was filed on time was the issue the Third District Court of Appeal needed to decide recently.
The Third District Court of Appeal overturned a lower court decision, which found that Angela M. Rizo’s insurance claim was time barred due to the statute of limitations.
In October of 2005 Rizo incurred damages to the home due to Hurricane Wilma. The insurance company made payments in January and April of 2006 as a result of the Hurricane Wilma damage. In October of 2010 Rizo submitted an additional claim to State Farm, which had not been adjusted or paid. That claim was not paid and Rizo filed her lawsuit against State Farm in July of 2011.
In defense of these claims State Farm asserted that the five-year limitations had passed and that the lawsuit should be barred. State Farm argued that the five year statute of limitations on breach of contract claims began to run no later than the last payment (April 2006) and as such the July 2011 was barred. Rizo, however, did not allege any breach of contract until 2010.
State Farm relied on the fact that they insured’s last payment was in April of 2006, which the court found to be correct, although it did not qualify that payment as the last and final payment.
The payment made during April of 2006 was instead considered to be evidence of performance under the insurance policy, which did not constitute a breach. This was because the checks that were sent during this time were not marked with the phrase “full and final payment.”
Due to this there was no breach in the contract and her claim in January of 2011 was still considered to be timely. As a result, the Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal reversed the judgment and remanded for further proceedings.