Late Notice Kills Insured’s Claim for Damage Due to Hurricane

    The insurer’s motion for summary judgment was granted based upon the insured’s late notice nearly two years after a hurricane caused property damage. Ramirez v. Scottsdale Ins. Co., 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 209716 (S.D. Fla. Oct. 29, 2021).

    Plaintiff alleged he suffered property loss due to wind and water damage from Hurricane Irma on September 10, 2017. The roof, exterior, and interior of the home were damaged. 

    On May 20, 2019, twenty months after the hurricane, plaintiff first notified Scottsdale of his claim for damages. An adjuster inspected and observed wind, wear and tear, and deterioration damage to the roof tile, as well as interior water damage to portions of the home. The claim was denied based upon wind, wear and tear, and deterioration exclusions in the policy.

    Plaintiff filed suit. Scottsdale moved for summary judgment because plaintiff failed to provide “prompt notice” as required by the policy. Plaintiff conceded the notice was untimely, but argued Scottsdale suffered no prejudice because it was able to inspect the property. 

    The court disagreed with plaintiff’s argument. Under Florida law, where the policy required notice “as soon as practicable,” the clause is breached by a failure to notify the insurer for a period of more than one year. When the undisputed factual record establishes notice is so late that no reasonable juror could find it timely, Florida courts will deem the notice untimely as a matter of law. 

    Plaintiff argued Scottsdale was not prejudiced because it had the opportunity to inspect the property. This at least created an issued of fact for the factfinder. But plaintiff failed to point to anything in the record to support this argument. 

    Therefore, Scottsdale’s motion was granted.


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