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Florida Third DCA rules that production of insurance company’s documents concerning its business practices and procedures was premature in first-party dispute concerning insurance coverage

On November 25, 2020, in State Farm Florida Insurance Company v. Hill, No. 3D20-1191, the Florida Third DCA quashed a trial court order which had denied State Farm’s motion for a protective order in a declaratory judgment action concerning coverage under a homeowner’s policy.  The trial court order enforced the plaintiff insured’s production request for State Farm’s  “protocol, policy and guidelines” for complying with § 627.70131(5)(a), Florida Statutes, the statutory provision requiring an insurer to pay or deny a first-party property insurance claim within 90 days of submission.   The Third DCA observed that in first-party disputes concerning coverage under a homeowners’ insurance policy, the Court has consistently granted certiorari and quashed discovery orders that permitted insureds to obtain their insurers’ claims handling policies, practices, procedures, manuals or guidelines. The rationale for quashing such orders is that the discovery, when sought in connection with a bad faith claim, is premature until there are determinations on liability and damages in the first-party dispute regarding insurance coverage. The Court cited as precedent State Farm Fla. Ins. Co. v. Desai, 106 So. 3d 5, 6 (Fla. 3d DCA 2013) and Gen. Star Indem. Co. v. Atl. Hosp. of  Fla., LLC, 93 So. 3d 501, 503 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012).