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  • Kyle Staggs

Can my insurance company cancel me for filing a claim?

couple signing insurance contract

The rules for when an insurance company can cancel or non-renew a policy are governed by Florida Statute § 627.4133. When nonrenewing a policy, the carrier must provide a reason and forty-five (45) days written notice. Fla. Stat. § 627.4133(1)(a).  The focus of this article is to better understand Florida Statute § 627.4133.

There are two specific situations when an insurance company cannot use the fact that the insured has filed a claim as a reason for the cancellation or nonrenewal of a policy. First, “claims on property insurance policies that are the result of an act of God may not be used as a cause for cancellation or nonrenewal, unless the insurer can demonstrate, by claims frequency or otherwise, that the insured has failed to take action reasonably necessary as requested by the insurer to prevent recurrence of damage to the insured property.” Fla. Stat. § 627.4133(3). An “act of God” is defined as: 

An overwhelming, unpreventable event caused exclusively by forces of nature, such as an earthquake, flood, or tornado. • The definition has been statutorily broadened to include all natural phenomena that are exceptional, inevitable, and irresistible, the effects of which could not be prevented or avoided by the exercise of due care or foresight. 42 USCA § 9601(1). — Also termed act of nature; act of providence; superior force; vis major; irresistible superhuman force; vis divina. Cf. FORCE MAJEURE; unavoidable accident under ACCIDENT. 

Black’s Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019) (emphasis added). 

The "act of God" definition should include claims because of hurricanes, windstorms, sinkholes, etc. When filing a claim because a home was damaged by an act of God, unless the insurance company can prove that the homeowner did not reasonably protect the property, the insurance company is not permitted to use the filing of that claim as the cause for canceling or non-renewing a homeowner's insurance policy.

Second, "a single claim on a property insurance policy which is the result of water damage may not be used as the sole cause for cancellation or nonrenewal unless the insurer can demonstrate that the insured has failed to take action reasonably requested by the insurer to prevent a future similar occurrence of damage to the insured property." Fla. Stat. § 627.4133(6). This provision provides less protection for the homeowner. Filing one claim for water damage, not the result of an act of God, may not be the only reason for a policy being canceled or non-renewed. However, when multiple claims are filed, there is no protection from cancellation or nonrenewal. 

Based on my experience handling thousands of water loss claims, it is doubtful that filing a second legitimate water loss claim will lead to a policy being canceled or non-renewed. People typically get canceled or non-renewed for filing a claim only when they file several claims within a short period. 

As long as a homeowner does not commit fraud and pays insurance premiums on time, filing a single claim cannot be the sole reason for an insurance policy to be canceled or non-renewed.  

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