We have previously discussed cases involving prompt notice here and here. As we’ve mentioned before, insurance policies typically contain post loss obligations that can include providing prompt notice of the loss. Prompt notice is not defined in insurance policies; thus, it has been up to Florida courts to interpret what constitutes “prompt.”

In a recent case, Guzman v. Southern Fidelity, the appellate court was tasked with deciding whether a 7 day delay in reporting a loss was prompt as a matter of law. The insured in Guzman discovered some humidity and slight discoloration of his bathroom. The insured contacted a public adjuster and a restoration company on the same day he discovered the loss. The public adjuster prepared an estimate and the remediation company completed their job and approximately 7 days after the loss was discovered, the claim was reported to the insurance company. The insurance claim was ultimately denied. After discovery, the insurance company moved for summary judgment asking the court to determine that the 7 day delay in reporting was not prompt as a matter of law. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment for the insurance company.

The appellate court had a different opinion. First, the Court reaffirmed the holdings of prior courts stating that prompt does not require instantaneous notice. Rather, notice is prompt if it is provided with all reasonable dispatch and within a reasonable time in view of all the facts and circumstances of the particular case. Secondly, the Court also reaffirmed the holdings of prior cases that have stated that whether or not notice is prompt is generally a question of fact for the jury. Third, the Court acknowledged that exceptions exist but those typically deal with cases that involved a longer time period than a week. Ultimately, the Court determined in Guzman that there was a jury question as to whether a 7 day delay in reporting the loss constituted prompt notice and reversed the summary judgment holding.

While Guzman resulted in a partial victory for the insured, it will still be up to a jury to determine whether a 7 day delay was considered prompt under the circumstances. It is crucial that after you sustain a loss to your Florida property, you report the damage to your insurance company in a timely basis. As an insured you have post loss obligations that you must abide by after a loss before coverage will be extended by any insurance policy. If you are unaware of your post loss obligations, you can always contact your insurance company to gain more information or seek the assistance of an attorney.

If you have sustained a loss at your Florida property and need assistance complying with your post loss obligations, schedule a consultation with the experienced attorneys at Alvarez Law Group today. Call us at (786) 620-2820 or email to schedule a consultation.

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