Can I File A First-Party Insurance Claim Even If I’m Not Listed On The Vehicle’s Title?
There is a basic principle in insurance law that an insured party may not collect more than its own financial interest in the property that is damaged or destroyed. This is referred to as having an “insurable interest.” You might think that merely having an insurance policy is proof of an insurable interest. But that is not always the case. You cannot manufacture an insurable interest by contract. Instead, the insurable interest must exist independently.
At the same time, you do not necessarily need to have legal title to property in order to establish an insurable interest. Florida law defines an insurable interest more broadly to include “any actual, lawful, and substantial economic interest in the safety or preservation of the subject of the insurance free from loss, destruction, or pecuniary damage or impairment.”
Florida Appeals Court Reinstates Case Against State Farm
Take this recent decision from the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeals, Covington v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co.. The issue in this case was whether a person could assert an insurable interest in a vehicle when they were not listed as the owner on the title. The plaintiff was a named insured on the relevant policy, but her husband was the sole owner on the vehicle’s title.
The plaintiff’s daughter was driving the insured vehicle one day when it was involved in an accident with another car. The plaintiff subsequently filed a claim with her insurance company, which was State Farm. State Farm, in turn, said the plaintiff should file a claim with the other driver’s insurer. The plaintiff did so, but she was dissatisfied with the repairs paid for by the other insurer. She ultimately attempted to repair the vehicle herself before deciding to sell it.
The plaintiff then sued State Farm for breach of contract. State Farm moved to dismiss the case, arguing the plaintiff had no insurable interest in a vehicle legally owned by her husband. The trial court agreed with State Farm and granted its motion for summary judgment.
The Fourth District reversed that decision, however, holding there was evidence that would allow a jury to find the plaintiff had an insurable interest in the vehicle. The appellate court noted, “Florida does not require legal title for an insured to have an insurable interest.” Although the mere fact the plaintiff was listed as an insured on the policy was not, in and of itself, sufficient to create an insurable interest, the Fourth District said there was other evidence to suggest she nevertheless had “an actual, lawful, and substantial economic interest,” as the primary user of the vehicle.
Speak with a Florida Personal Injury Attorney Today
Insurance companies are happy to collect your premiums every month. But when it comes time to actually cover damages from an auto accident, they suddenly start looking for every legal loophole to avoid responsibility. That is why it is crucial to work with an experienced Delray Beach car accident lawyer who will fight for your rights. Contact Leifer & Ramirez today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our personal injury team.