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Insurance Carrier: Service Insurance Companies
State: Florida

Consumer Complaint:

Sent letter to Service Insurance company and copied Horace Mann insurance company as that was our original contact, detailing our concern as well as their flood policy declarations from 8/8/98 to 9/8/06 with an elevation certificate. While the flood certificate indicates we are in the "Firm Zone" our policies were written for Flood Zone AH. The company when contacted said they don't know who made the mistake but refused to do anything about it. What do we do-- contact an attorney or is there another way to approach this issue?


Insurance Expert Answer:

This is a tricky one. First, companies do not willingly refund premium on old policies for risks they insured way back when, even where there is an error. They generally have paid premium tax and commissions and other expenses on such policies, and based their new rates on the experience that were reported to them. Second, we noted your claim goes back to 1998. At least to the extent that a claim is based on a dates extending beyond the applicable (presumably Florida) statute of limitations, you'd be totally out of luck. Some policies also have provisions that purport to further limit the time period during which you must report and/or make any claims, and a refund claim just might be regarded as a claim to the extent the policy provision is lawful. Third, to the extent that your claim is based on someone's negligence -- either at the company or the agent, if any -- you'd likely have to prove the negligence, and that you were not guilty of contributory negligence, whether in terms of providing incorrect information and/or by not catching this yourself. Fourth, as we are not Florida lawyers or insurance agents we have no idea if Florida law allows a claim in contract in these circumstances either. Finally, as the Flood Insurance program is a federal program, that might only complicate matters and bring into play a whole new set of rules and bureaucracy.

We suggest you may want to start with the Florida Department of Insurance and see what suggestions that agency provides. After that, contacting the Federal agency that handles flood coverage would be a route you may want to go. Finally you can approach a lawyer who knows flood insurance in your state, and hopefully that lawyer could advise you and get at least something back for you after paying his or her fees. We'd love to learn what happens so we can better advise others in this circumstance in the future.