Duty to Defend Triggered in Florida


Court rules that insurers must treat notice of claim for construction defects as a lawsuit for purposes of duty to defend. A pre suit letter is deemed to be a “suit” or “suit papers” in a policy.

The Sapphire Condominium in Fort Lauderdale (Credit: Keller Williams Realty)

Florida has issued a controversial and sweeping ruling which will impact insurers in the construction defect arena. “w]here an insurer issued a commercial general liability policy to a general contractor, the property owner’s notices of claim invoked the insurer’s duty to defend the contractor under the policy because the notice and repair pre-suit process of ch. 558, Fla. Stat., was an ‘alternative dispute resolution proceeding’ under the policy’s definition of ‘suit.’” Id. Altman Contrs., Inc. v. Crum & Forster Specialty Ins. Co., No. SC16-1420, 2017 Fla. LEXIS 2492 (Dec. 14, 2017)

The notice which triggered the duty to defend in Altman was Florida’s 558 Notice which is similar to South Carolina’s Notice and Opportunity to Cure letter.

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