In One Call Property Services, Inc. v. Security First Insurance Company, 40 FLW D1196 (Fla. 4th DCA May 20 2015), One Call took an assignment of benefits from an insured homeowner after the homeowner hired One Call to perform clean up services caused by a water leak.
When Security First failed to pay One Call for its services, One Call sued Security First for breach of contract. Security First moved to dismiss the complaint, claiming that the assignment was invalid and therefore One Call had no standing to bring the lawsuit. The trial court agreed with Security First. One Call appealed to the 4th DCA. The 4th reversed.
Security First put forward three arguments in support of its position:
1) The policy prohibits assignment of the policy;
2) The assignment is invalid because it was entered before any money was due under the “loss payment” provision in the policy.
3) The policy requires the insurer to adjust the loss with the insured and the assignment improperly attempts to shift this duty to a third-party.
After reviewing the nearly 100 years of Florida law approving post-law assignments of benefits, the 4th stated:
Despite the well-settled case law allowing post-loss assignments of insurance claims, Security First argues the assignment is invalid pursuant to the policy’s anti-assignment and loss payment provisions.
* * *
We find that the loss payment provision falls far short of creating a bar to assignment.
* * *
We therefore conclude that an assignable right to benefits accrues on the date of the loss, even though payment is not yet due under the loss payment clause.
* * *
Nor can the assignment be invalidated on the theory that it attempts to assign a contractual ‘duty to adjust” from the insured to a third party…. Although [the language of the policy] contemplates the insured’s participation in the adjustment process, it does not impose a duty on the insured to adjust the loss. In fact, a ‘duty to adjust’ is not among the insured’s duties in the section of the policy listing the insured’s Duties After Loss.
* * *
In short, as long as the insured complies with all policy conditions, a third-party assignee may recover benefits on a covered loss.