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How Ambiguous Insurance Provisions Are Resolved

You have picked an insurer to cover your commercial property and signed a contract. You submit a claim and find out it’s denied. What is completely unclear to you is that your contract says that you’re covered, but now the insurance company is saying you aren’t. This can be very frustrating and scary before contacting a Hollywood commercial property insurance attorney

Consider this: Imagine your friend tells you to meet them at eight. Do they mean eight PM, eight AM, the house numbered 8, or something else entirely? You would have to ask your friend for more information because they have used unclear language.

Similarly, while contract lawyers typically draft insurance policies, even they can mistakenly use confusing and vague language. This can leave insureds feeling particularly vulnerable when they find out a claim has been denied.

Florida Typically Resolves Ambiguous Insurance Provisions in Favor of the Insured

Floridians need not be too worried about the effects of vague provisions when under the guidance of a Hollywood commercial property insurance attorney. In Florida, ambiguous insurance policies are resolved in favor of the insured. This is because the insurer has had the opportunity to draft the documents and should have taken more care to make its intentions clear.

Suppose for instance that property damage will be covered in the event of extreme winds. That term, extreme winds, is sort of vague. Do they mean winds going over 50 miles per hour? What about 80 miles per hour? What if the winds are strong but do not culminate in a tornado or hurricane?

Someone who suffered property damage would argue that any winds that are strong enough to cause property damage are extreme. But the insurer may say that the winds have to be of a certain character or speed to be considered extreme. In this case, there would be disagreement about whether the insured would be covered. 

As a Hollywood commercial property insurance attorney will explain to you, courts recognize that this sort of limbo is unnecessary and should not harm the insured who had nothing to do with drafting the insurance policy. The insurer will have to pay the claim and then revise the policy to make it less ambiguous. For instance, the insurer could define extreme winds as being over a certain force.

No External Evidence Can be Used to Resolve the Ambiguities

The other unique aspect of contract interpretation in Florida is that courts cannot consider external evidence to resolve the ambiguity. A Hollywood commercial property insurance attorney can explain that this is referred to as the “four corners” doctrine. Courts can only look at what is contained inside the four corners of the document. They cannot consider that you and the insurer may have met over coffee when an agent described to you what “extreme winds” meant.

Let’s suppose in that conversation, the agent told you how fast the wind must have been going, and where they would verify that information from. Let’s further suppose that you agreed to that. Even if that conversation took place, the court cannot consider it when resolving the ambiguity. Again, this is meant to protect the insured and requires the insurer to do a more careful job of drafting the insurance contract.

Speak to a Hollywood Commercial Property Insurance Attorney Today for Assistance

If you have questions or concerns about your current policy, contact a Hollywood commercial property insurance attorney who is well-versed in insurance provisions today at 954-915-7405.