A Florida appellate court recently held that the sixty-day cure period for bad faith under section 624.155, Florida Statutes, begins to run when the insured electronically files a Civil Remedy Notice with the Department of Financial Services. Harper v. GEICO Gen. Ins. Co., 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 3211 (Fla. 2d DCA Mar. 1, 2019).
An insurer refused to pay underinsured motorist benefits, and the insured electronically filed a Civil Remedy Notice with the Department of Financial Services. She mailed a copy to the insurer on the same date, which the insurer claimed it received almost two weeks later. Thereafter, the insurer agreed to pay benefits and indicated that it would send payment and a release under separate cover. The check and release were mailed to the insured’s counsel sixty-five days after the Civil Remedy Notice had been electronically filed. The insured filed suit, taking the position that payment was untimely under section 624.155(3)(d), which requires that payment be made within sixty days of the date when the Civil Remedy Notice is filed with the Department. The insurer moved to dismiss, arguing that payment was timely because it was made within sixty days of the date of its receipt of the notice. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the insurer. The insured appealed.
The appellate court reversed, rejecting the insurer’s argument that the sixty-day cure period begins when an insurer actually receives the Civil Remedy Notice, finding that nothing in section 624.155 requires the insurer to receive the Civil Remedy Notice before the sixty-day cure prior begins. Further, the appellate court stated that starting the sixty-day cure period only upon an insurer’s actual receipt of the Civil Remedy Notice would lead to conflicts with the application of section 624.155(3)(f), which tolls the statute of limitations for a bad-faith action for a period of sixty-five days from the date the Civil Remedy Notice is mailed to the insurer. Thus, it held that because the insurer did not pay the claim within sixty days of the date the Civil Remedy Notice was electronically filed, the insurer did not pay the claim within the sixty-day cure period, and the insured was entitled to pursue her action for the insurer’s alleged bad faith.