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Luis Alfredo Rodriguez v. Security National Ins., Inc., Case No. 3D13-1890 (3rd DCA)

In Rodriguez, an individual was killed while riding his motorcycle when he was struck by a vehicle owned by Eduardo Olivera. The personal representative of the decedent’s estate sued Olivera. The parties later entered a Coblentz agreement, and Olivera agreed to entry of a $2.5 million judgment, in exchange for an assignment of his rights to a claim against his insurance company, Security National. Security National had refused coverage for the accident because Olivera’s policy expired on December 6, 2008, nearly two months prior to the accident. The plaintiff amended the complaint to include claims against Security National, and alleged Security National was required to place Olivera on notice that his policy was about to expire, and that Security National failed to do so. The plaintiff argued that, as a result, the policy remained in full force and effect at the time of the accident. Security National asserted that it mailed notices to Olivera twice before the policy expired, and once again after expiration of the policy. The notices were all sent to the address listed on Olivera’s insurance application and declaration sheets, which did not include an apartment number. Security National moved for summary judgment, and prevailed.

The court found that even if Security National was statutorily required to provide reasonable notice of payment due in advance of the due date, Security National sent notices to Olivera prior to the policy lapse date. The court found that Security National sent notices to the address which Olivera put in the application, which lacked an apartment number, and the same address, without an apartment number, appears on the declaration pages. The court therefore ruled that Security National provided sufficient proof of notice by mailing the renewal offers and notice of policy lapse to the address provided by Olivera in his application, which was the same address that later appeared in the policy and on the declaration pages. As such, the court affirmed the summary judgment.

The court additionally noted that Security National argued that it was not required to provide written notice of the policy lapse under Florida law. The plaintiff asserted that notice was required under Florida Statute 627.728(1)(c) and (4)(a). The plaintiff argued that the phrase “when due” in defining nonpayment of premium under section 627.728(1)(c) means that nonpayment of a premium can occur only after the insurer has provided notice of when the payment is due and the amount of the premium. As such, the plaintiff argued that the failure to provide notice of payment due negates the “nonpayment of premium” exception for the notice requirement under section 627.728(4)(a). The court did not reach this issue, however, because it found the insurer provided adequate notice.

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