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Bad faith battlegrounds: Not so quiet on the Southeastern front

Thu May 4th, 2017 on     Articles,     Brenton N. Ver Ploeg

Bad faith battlegrounds: Not so quiet on the Southeastern front Bad faith has now become part of the American landscape and an accepted tool to balance the playing field between insurers and policyholders. In 1982, Florida’s Legislature became the first in the United States to create the right to bring a private lawsuit for an insurance company’s violations of the Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act (UITPA). UITPA, on the books since the mid-’70s, described and prohibited many unfair claims practices but saw them enforced only by the limited staff employed in the Insurance Commissioner’s office. The 1982 law (Florida statute 624.155) commonly known as Florida’s Bad Faith Statute, provides outside-the-contract remedies for consumers with a Florida claim. It promised much, but in its infancy brought little and was sparsely used. Though uninsured motorist claimants at the trial level were quick to benefit from the statute’s plain effort to include them, appellate cases were slow to come, scattered and inconsistent. Even the basic procedural and substantive issues, undefined by either the statute or its legislative history, went largely begging for resolution. The Bad Faith Statute is now into adolescence, and like most teenagers approaching their 16th birthday, is experiencing not only rapid growth but the confusion that comes from false starts. Here, we review some of both threads. The underlying bad faith disputes: Chickens and eggs One of the threshold issues in insurance bad faith law around the country is whether an insured can maintain a bad faith suit at the […]

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