As you know, insurance is an important part of risk assessment for many, many business needs. Oftentimes, an insured relies on an insurance broker or agent to procure specific insurance to meet its express business objectives and risks. Notably, there is a potential negligence claim associated with an insurance agent or broker’s negligent procurement of insurance for an insured. While this is not the easiest claim to prove, a recent Third District case explained this standard:
It is well settled that “where an insurance agent or broker undertakes to obtain insurance coverage for another person and fails to do so, he may be held liable for resulting damages for . . . negligence. More specifically, and as applicable here, “[a]n agent is required to use reasonable skill and diligence, and liability may result from a negligent failure to obtain coverage which is specifically requested or clearly warranted by the insured’s expressed needs.” As explained by our sister court, “[t]his general duty requires the agent to exercise due care in correctly advising the insured of the existence and availability of particular insurance, including the availability and desirability of obtaining higher limits, depending on the scope of the agents undertaking.”
Kendall South Medical Center, Inc. v. Consolidated Ins. Nation, Inc., 42 Fla. L. Weekly D1071a (Fla. 3d DCA 2017) (internal quotations omitted).
In this case, a leak occurred on commercial leased premises. The commercial tenant had a property insurance policy that provided $100,000 of coverage for the physical improvements and contents of the property. However, there was a 90% coinsurance provision. A coinsurance provision shifts risk to the insured when the insured purchases less coverage than the value of the property.
As a result of the coinsurance provision, the insured only received a fraction of its damages, and less than the $100,000 in coverage. The insured, however, claimed it was under the belief it would recover $100,000 in insurance proceeds as that was what it told its agent it needed. The insured sued its insurance agent claiming the agent’s failure to advise it that the procured policy did not address its expressed insurance needs. “[W]hen an insured alleges that it specifically communicated its insurance needs to an agent who then undertook to procure a policy addressing such needs, the insured states a cause of action for negligent procurement where it also alleges that, without providing an explanation that different coverage was required, the agent procured a policy not meeting those expressed needs.” Kendall South Medical Center, supra.
Perhaps this could have been avoided had the insured reviewed the specific terms of the insurance policy. Perhaps there are e-mails or other records where the insurance agent explained that the coverage the insured was seeking could not be procured without a coinsurance provision that shifted the risk to the insured. Know your insurance and know the risks and coverage afforded to you!
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