Please Take Notice! The One-Year Notice Requirement for Florida Insurance Claims Applies to Policies with Effective Dates On or After December 16, 2022
By: Kelly Fantetti, Esq.
For years, Florida Statute Section 627.70132 applied only to windstorm and hurricane claims, and it required that a claim “for loss or damage caused by the peril of windstorm or hurricane is barred unless notice of the claim, supplemental claim, or reopened claim was given to the insurer in accordance with the terms of the policy within 3 years after the hurricane first made landfall or the windstorm caused the covered damage.”
Then, effective July 1, 2021, the Statute was amended to apply to all claims, not just windstorm or hurricane. Furthermore, the timeframe for reporting an initial or reopened claim was reduced to 2 years, while still allowing 3 years for supplemental claims. On this point, the statute provided the following definitions of reopened vs. supplemental claims:
(a) “Reopened claim” means a claim that an insurer has previously closed, but that has been reopened upon an insured’s request for additional costs for loss or damage previously disclosed to the insurer.
(b) “Supplemental claim” means a claim for additional loss or damage from the same peril which the insurer has previously adjusted or for which costs have been incurred while completing repairs or replacement pursuant to an open claim for which timely notice was previously provided to the insurer.
However, on December 16, 2022, the Statute was amended yet again, narrowing the timeframe for reporting even further. Now, the Statute provides that initial and reopened claims must be reported within 1 year of the date of the loss, and supplemental claims must be reported within 18 months. During the deliberations on this bill, the bill’s sponsor noted his belief that the bill would not be applied retroactively to existing Hurricane Ian damage; however, the final bill did not incorporate any specific legislative intent on that issue. Nevertheless, in a subsequent amendment to the Statute, in which the legislature added a tolling period for servicemembers deployed to combat zones, the legislature included a note regarding its intent that the 1-year notice requirement should not be applied retroactively to existing policies. Specifically, the note reads:
Note.—Section 23, ch. 2023-172, provides that “[c]hapter 2022-271, Laws of Florida, shall not be construed to impair any right under an insurance contract in effect on or before the effective date of that chapter law. To the extent that chapter 2022-271, Laws of Florida, affects a right under an insurance contract, that chapter law applies to an insurance contract issued or renewed after the applicable effective date provided by the chapter law. This section is intended to clarify existing law and is remedial in nature.”
Accordingly, there should be no argument that the 1-year/18-month notice requirements apply to claims for Hurricane Ian damage, or any claims on policies that were issued or renewed before December 16, 2022. Instead, damages arising out of Hurricane Ian will be governed by the 2/3-year rule.
For claims arising out of Hurricane Idalia, on the other hand, adjusters and policyholders will need to consult the effective date of the policy period. If the policy went into effect before December 16, 2022, then the 2/3-year reporting requirement applies. If the policy went into effect on or after December 16, 2022, then the 1-year/18-month rule will apply.
Finally, it should be noted that these reporting requirements do not affect the Statute of Limitations, which is the time period that the policyholder has to file a lawsuit. Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 95.11, an action for breach of a property insurance contract must be filed within 5 years, running from the date of the loss.