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Florida Third DCA affirms summary judgment for plaintiffs against motor vehicle liability insurer, finds that insurer failed to comply with statutory requirements to decline coverage

On August 23, 2017, in GEICO v. Mukamel, No. 3D15-2750, the Florida Third DCA affirmed a trial court’s summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, whose son was killed in an automobile accident due to the negligence of GEICO’s insured. The insured at-fault driver absconded after the accident and his whereabouts are unknown, leading GEICO to send a notice of reservation of rights to his last known address because of his failure to cooperate in the investigation. GEICO represented the insured through a trial verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, subsequently seeking to decline coverage based on the breach of cooperation. The Third DCA noted that in doing so GEICO had failed to comply with several provisions of section 627.426, Florida Statutes, which requires an insurance company to either (i) give the insured written notice of a refusal to defend (ii) obtain a nonwaiver agreement from the insured; or (iii) retain independent counsel.

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