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What is commercial auto insurance?

Commercial auto insurance protects businesses from potential financial losses associated with accidents or damages involving company-owned vehicles. It helps cover the costs of property damage, bodily injury, and other liabilities related to vehicular accidents.

One example is a construction business that uses trucks for transporting materials and equipment. In the event of an accident, commercial auto insurance would help cover the costs of repairing or replacing damaged vehicles and any legal expenses that might arise from claims made against the business.

Need help with a matter related to commercial auto insurance? Schedule your consultation today with a top insurance attorney.

In Florida, which laws and regulations relate to commercial auto insurance?

In Florida, commercial auto insurance is regulated by the Florida Department of Financial Services, which oversees the insurance industry and enforces the state’s insurance laws. One such law is Florida Statute § 627.7415, which requires varying coverage depending on a commercial vehicle’s gross weight.

Additionally, Florida is a no-fault state, which means that Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance is also required for businesses that own or lease motor vehicles. PIP coverage helps pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs, regardless of who is at fault in an accident.

What are common disputes regarding commercial auto insurance that lead to litigation?

The following disputes are among the most common in actions regarding commercial auto insurance in insurance procurement and coverage matters:

  • Denial of Coverage: Insurance carriers may deny coverage based on exclusions or conditions in the policy, leading policyholders to dispute the validity of the denial and seek legal recourse.
  • Disagreement Over Policy Limits: Disputes may arise when policyholders and insurance carriers disagree on the extent of coverage and the maximum amount payable for a particular claim.
  • Bad Faith Claims: Policyholders may allege that an insurance carrier has acted in bad faith by refusing to settle a claim, delaying payment, or inadequately investigating a claim.
  • Valuation Disputes: Conflicts can occur when policyholders and insurers disagree on the value of damaged or lost property, leading to disputes over the amount of compensation owed.
  • Misrepresentation or Non-Disclosure: Insurers may deny coverage or seek to rescind a policy if they believe a policyholder has misrepresented or failed to disclose material facts during the application process.

We are value-based attorneys at Jimerson Birr, which means we look at each action with our clients from the point of view of costs and benefits while reducing liability. Then, based on our client’s objectives, we chart a path to seek appropriate remedies.

To determine whether a unique situation may necessitate litigation, please contact our office to set up your initial consultation.

What measures should an insurance carrier take to minimize the risk of litigation over commercial auto insurance? 

To successfully mitigate the risk of litigation over commercial auto insurance in insurance procurement and coverage matters, insurance carriers should consider the following steps:

  • Clear Policy Language: Ensure that policy language is clear, concise, and easily understood to minimize ambiguity and potential disputes.
  • Thorough Underwriting: Conduct a thorough underwriting process to identify and address potential risks and ensure that policyholders fully understand their coverage.
  • Prompt and Fair Claim Handling: Respond to claims promptly and thoroughly investigate the facts to ensure fair and accurate claim settlements.
  • Consistent Communication: Maintain open lines of communication with policyholders throughout the claims process to manage expectations and address any concerns that may arise.
  • Documentation: Keep detailed records of all communications and actions taken during the claims process to support the insurer’s position in case of litigation.
  • Risk Management: Offer risk management services and resources to help policyholders minimize potential losses and better understand their coverage needs.

By following these steps, insurance carriers can reduce the likelihood of disputes and litigation while maintaining positive relationships with their policyholders.

What must be proven to file a lawsuit regarding commercial auto insurance successfully, and what are common legal defenses to those claims? 

Procedurally, a plaintiff must comply with the notice provisions and deadlines set forth in the insurance policy and any applicable Florida and federal statutes and regulations. This includes timely filing of the lawsuit and ensuring proper service to the defendant’s insurance company.

In a breach of contract lawsuit based on an insurance policy, the plaintiff must typically prove the following elements:

  • Existence of a valid insurance policy covering the plaintiff’s property;
  • Covered loss or damage occurred during the policy period;
  • Compliance with policy conditions, such as providing timely notice and proof of loss; and
  • The insurer failed to pay the claim or undervalued the claim in violation of the policy terms.

Common legal defenses include:

  • Policy Exclusions: The insurer argues that the loss or damage is excluded from coverage under the policy terms.
  • Late Notice: The insurer claims that the policyholder failed to provide timely notice of the loss, as the policy requires.
  • Misrepresentation or Concealment: The insurer alleges that the policyholder misrepresented or concealed material facts when obtaining the policy or submitting the claim.
  • Failure to mitigate damages: The insurer contends that the policyholder did not take reasonable steps to minimize the damage after the loss occurred.

To see what actions or defenses may be available for your unique situation, please contact our office to set up your initial consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is commercial auto insurance, and why is it necessary in Florida?

Commercial auto insurance provides coverage for vehicles used for business purposes. It helps protect businesses from financial losses resulting from accidents, property damage, and liability claims. In Florida, companies with commercial vehicles must carry commercial auto insurance to comply with state regulations and protect their assets.

How much commercial auto insurance coverage is required in Florida?

In Florida, the minimum required coverage for commercial auto insurance varies depending on the type and size of the vehicle. Business owners must consult an insurance agent or legal expert to determine the appropriate coverage amount for their specific needs and comply with state regulations.

How can businesses in Florida reduce their commercial auto insurance premiums?

Businesses in Florida can take several measures to reduce their commercial auto insurance premiums, such as implementing safety programs, maintaining a clean driving record for all employees, choosing vehicles with advanced safety features, and bundling multiple insurance policies with the same insurer. It is also essential to shop around and compare quotes from different insurers to find the best rates for the desired coverage.

Have more questions about a commercial auto insurance-related situation?

Crucially, this overview of commercial auto insurance does not begin to cover all the laws implicated by this issue or the factors that may compel the application of such laws. Every case is unique, and the laws can produce different outcomes depending on the individual circumstances.

Jimerson Birr attorneys guide our clients to help make informed decisions while ensuring their rights are respected and protected. Our lawyers are highly trained and experienced in the nuances of the law, so they can accurately interpret statutes and case law and holistically prepare individuals or companies for their legal endeavors. Through this intense personal investment and advocacy, our lawyers will help resolve the issue’s complicated legal problems efficiently and effectively.

Having a Jimerson Birr attorney on your side means securing a team of seasoned, multi-dimensional, cross-functional legal professionals. Whether it is a transaction, an operational issue, a regulatory challenge, or a contested legal predicament that may require court intervention, we remain a tireless advocate every step of the way. Being a value-added law firm means putting the client at the forefront of everything we do. We use our experience to help our clients navigate even the most complex problems and come out the other side triumphant.

If you want to understand your case, the merits of your claim or defense, potential monetary awards, or the amount of exposure you face, you should speak with a qualified Jimerson Birr lawyer. Our experienced team of attorneys is here to help. Call Jimerson Birr at (904) 389-0050 or use the contact form to set up a consultation.

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