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Florida Fourth DCA rules that property insurance company in first-party insurance coverage dispute was not entitled to defense of accord and satisfaction even though proffered settlement check was deposited by insured’s assignee

On August 18., 2021, in Certified Priority Restoration v. Universal Insurance Company of North America, No. 4D21-374, the Florida Fourth DCA affirmed a trial court’s dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the plaintiff as assignee of a first-party insured’s rights under a property insurance policy with the defendant insurer. The plaintiff, a water damage restoration company, filed a claim with the defendant insurer for its $8,710.84 bill, in response to which the insurer sent back a check for $3,000 because of a policy provision limiting claim payments to $3,000 where no prior authorization to exceed that limit was requested .The company deposited the check and filed the lawsuit to collect the difference. After the company filed its lawsuit, the two grounds for dismissal argued by the defendant before the trial court were accord and satisfaction and failure to obtain the necessary advance authorization. The Fourth DCA ruled that the doctrine of accord and satisfaction did not apply in this case because neither the insurer’s $3,000 check nor any accompanying written communication included the sort of “conspicuous statement” required by Fla. Stat. § 673.3111 that the instrument was tendered as full satisfaction of the claim. However, regarding the advance authorization issue, the Fourth DCA rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the advance authorization limit applied because the first party insured had signed an assignment of benefits which included a request to exceed the $3,000 limit. The Fourth DCA concluded that this evidence was irrelevant because the assignment was not submitted to the insurer until the invoice was submitted.

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