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Florida Fifth DCA rules that where homeowner’s insurance company did not “wholly deny” insured’s loss claim, issue had to be resolved by appraisal pursuant to the insurance contract rather than by court determination

On July 12, 2019, in First Protective Insurance Co. v. Colucciello, No. 5D19-31, the Florida Fifth DCA reversed a trial court’s order denying an insurance company’s motion to compel an appraisal pursuant to a homeowner’s insurance contract. The plaintiff homeowners in the case had filed a claim with the insurance company for water damage to their home from Hurricane Irma.  The insurance company paid the homeowners for interior damage to the home but declined to pay for certain exterior damages.  After the homeowners filed a breach of contract action, the insurance company moved to dismiss the complaint and compel an appraisal under the terms of the insurance contract. The trial court denied the motion without elaboration.  On appeal, the Fifth DCA concluded that coverage was not “wholly denied” by the insurance company and therefore under the terms of the insurance contract an appraisal was required to determine the amount of the loss. The Fifth DCA cited Johnson v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 828 So. 2d 1021, 1022 (Fla. 2002), and several decisions from other DCAs as supporting this decision.  See State Farm Ins. Co. v. Sheppard, 268 So. 3d 1006 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019); MKL Enters. LLC, v. Am. Traditions Ins. Co., 265 So. 3d 730 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019); People’s Tr. Ins. Co. v. Garcia, 263 So. 3d 231, 232 (Fla. 3d DCA 2019); People’s Tr. Ins. Co. v. Tracey, 251 So. 3d 931, 932 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018).