Congress Park Apartments sustained substantial damage to its property during Hurricane Wilma in October of 2005. Congress Park promptly reported the damage to its insurance company Certain Underwriter’s at Lloyd’s London.   The insurance company acknowledged Congress Park’s loss and made what it considered to be a full and adequate investigation of the Hurricane Wilma claim and issued a partial payment to Congress Park.  Congress Park disputed the amount of the payment and initiated litigation against the insurance company in Palm Beach County.

During the course of litigation, the insurance company filed a motion seeking a judgment in its favor arguing that the statute of limitations barred Congress Park’s claim. The insurance company argued that under the insurance policy’s “choice of law” endorsement, the trial court was required to apply Texas law to Congress Park’s claim. Under Texas law, an insured is required to file a lawsuit within two years of the breach of contract, whereas Florida allows such litigation to be filed within five years.

Congress Park asserted that there was an issue of fact as to whether the “choice of law” endorsement was part of the applicable insurance policy.  There were at least three versions of the policy before the trial court, one of which did not contain the “choice of law” endorsement.

The trial court granted the insurance company’s motion based almost exclusively on the assertions of its counsel regarding the completeness, as well as the genuineness of the insurance policy involved.

Congress Park appealed the trial court’s decision and argued that the trial court committed reversible error in entering judgment for the insurance company. On June 17, 2015, the Fourth District Court of Appeals issued its decision reversing the trial court’s ruling and agreeing with Congress Park. Congress Park  Limited Partnership v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London, No. 4D14-1516 (4th DCA June 17, 2015). The appellate court stated that the record was muddled on whether the “choice of law” endorsement was actually contained within the insurance policy and therefore, summary judgment based on the Texas statute of limitations was improper.

Everyone reading this article likely pays premiums to insure a home, rental property, business or vehicle. How many can say they possess a full and complete copy of their insurance policy and its applicable endorsements? The decision in Congress Park Limited Partnership v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London, should prompt every insured to review their applicable coverages and speak with a qualified agent or attorney who can explain the policy’s provisions which may limit or even exclude coverage for a loss.