Since its enactment in 2003, Chapter 558, Florida Statutes (commonly referred to as Florida’s notice and opportunity to cure provision) has governed the pre-suit notice and opportunity to repair process between owners, designers, contractors, and subcontractors involved in construction defect claims. Although the statute speaks primarily to the obligations of these parties, Commercial General Liability (“CGL”) insurers also play an integral role in the resolution of such claims. While CGL insurers ordinarily monitor, and will sometimes agree to settle 558 claims pre-suit, until recently, Florida law was silent as to whether insurers had an obligation to defend their insureds during the 558 process. In the absence of a legal duty to defend, CGL insurers routinely denied their insured’s requests for defense counsel during the 558 process. However, more recently, the Florida legislature amended Chapter 558 in an effort to, among other things, include CGL insurers in the pre-suit 558 process.
On December 14, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court issued its ruling in Altman Contractors, Inc. v. Crum & Forster Specialty Insurance Company, which considered whether CGL insurers owe a duty to defend pre-suit claims pursuant to Chapter 558.1 Florida law now holds that under the terms of a standard CGL policy, an insurer who consents to its insured’s participation in the 558 process owes a duty to defend to the insured. Continue reading ““Florida Supreme Court Weighs in on CGL Carriers’ Duty to Defend Chapter 558 Claims””