A Florida appellate court recently held that a Florida statute enacted in 2011 regarding the statute of limitations for actions involving a breach of a property policy does not apply retroactively. Donovan v. Fla. Peninsula Ins. Co., 2014 WL 3189914 (Fla. 4th DCA July 9, 2014).

An insured brought a breach of contract action in 2011 against its insurer after the insurer in 2010 rejected the insured’s request for an additional payment under the insured’s homeowner’s policy for damage in 2005.  The insurer moved to dismiss the suit, arguing that the action was brought five years after the 2005 loss and was time-barred by section 95.11, Florida Statutes, which provides a five year limitations period from the date of loss for breach of a property insurance contract.  The trial court granted the insurer’s motion to dismiss.  The insured appealed.

The appellate court reversed, finding that section 95.11, Florida Statutes, which became effective in May 2011 (after the insured’s cause of action accrued), did not apply retroactively because the legislature did not indicate that it was retroactive.  The appellate court acknowledged that the parties disagreed as to whether the limitations period began to run, i.e., when the cause of action accrued or the date of loss.  Prior to the effective date of the statute, the limitations period began from the date the action accrued, which was when coverage was alleged to have been erroneously denied.  The court held that the statute is now clear that the limitations period for an action for breach of a property policy begins to run on the date of loss.