Is Notice to the Agent Notice to the Principal?

In a recent decision from the Fifth District Court of Appeal the issue of whether notice to an agent is notice to the principal was raised again.

In the case of Gay and Gay Plumbing v. Association of Casualty Ins. Co. the defendant (insurance company) denied UM coverage to the insured claiming that Mr. Gay (insured) had settled his bodily injury claim contrary to policy language and that Mr. Gay failed to given written notice to the insurance company. Based on this defense, the defendant moved for summary judgment which the trial court ultimately granted and effectively dismissed Mr. Gay’s case.

The case facts established that Mr. Gay was injured in a motor vehicle accident while driving a vehicle owned by his company. After the accident Mr. Gay contacted a representative from the company (Burkey Risk Services, Inc.) where he purchased his insurance coverage. Mr. Gay also asked Burkey to report the UM Claim to the insurance company, Association Insurance.

On appeal of the dismissal of his case, the Fifth District Court of Appeal of Florida found that the trial court had erred by finding that notice to Burkey Risk was not notice to the Association. The facts were undisputed that Burkey was both an agent to the insured and the insurer. See Gay and Gay Plumbing, Inc. v. Association Casualty Ins. Co. So.3d, 37 FLW D2259 (Fla. 5th DCA 9-21-2012).

Florida law provides that notice to the agent is notice to the principal including the context of insurance. Additionally, Florida law also establishes that one can waive the written notice requirement when the carrier had actual notice of the claim. In the case at hand, the Fifth DCA correctly upheld the law and as a result Mr. Gay will be allowed to resume his lawsuit and seek insurance benefits from his carrier.

If you have a question regarding Florida insurance coverage or an insurance dispute in your personal injury case, we welcome you to call Robert Sparks Attorneys for a free case evaluation. A division of our firm is dedicated to protecting policyholder rights and we strive to hold insurance companies responsible for the coverage they provide.