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Sun-Sentinel / Thursday January 4, 2018
Insurance companies send settlement checks to Hurricane Irma victims with string attached
Some Florida homeowners are discovering their insurance companies are employing an interesting strategy to avoid future claims costs. Settlement checks sent by at least three companies include language stating that accepting the check releases the companies from further obligations connected to the claim. Plaintiffs attorneys say they have major problems with this strategy: It tries to intimidate policyholders into not seeking payment for additional costs that come up during repairs and is likely unenforceable. Palmetto Bay-based trial attorney Joe Ligman pointed to a section of Florida insurance law stating an insurer, after paying “actual cash value” for an insured loss minus any applicable deductible, “shall pay any remaining amounts necessary to perform such repairs as work is performed and expenses are incurred.” But that’s not what notices from two of Florida’s largest insurers say. On the back side of checks sent to homeowners, Fort Lauderdale-based Universal Property & Casualty includes the statement that an endorsement by the payee “constitutes receipt and release in full settlement for the claim or item mentioned in the draft.” Universal P&C is the state’s largest property insurer, with 612,227 policies statewide and 237,172 in the tricounty region as of Sept. 30, according to state records. Along with a check sent to at least one of its homeowners, Deerfield Beach-based People’s Trust Insurance sent a letter stating that...Read More


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