FIRST PROTECTIVE INSURANCE CO. D/B/A FRONTLINE INSURANCE CO., Appellant,
JOSE COLUCCIELLO AND STEFANIA COLUCCIELLO, Appellees.
FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
Nonfinal Appeal from the Circuit Court for Brevard County,
Jeffrey Mahl, Judge.
Levy, of Jay M. Levy, P.A., Miami, and Karen Fultz, of
Sheehee & Associates, P.A., Miami, for Appellant.
Matthew G. Struble, of Struble, P.A., Fort Lauderdale, for
Protective Insurance Co. d/b/a Frontline Insurance Co.
("Insurer") appeals the trial court's nonfinal
order denying its motion to compel appraisal. Under the facts
of this case, because Insurer did not "wholly deny"
coverage for its insureds' loss, we reverse and remand
with directions to the trial court to compel an appraisal.
and Stefania Colucciello ("Homeowners") insured
their home with Insurer. As a result of damage sustained to
their home due to water intrusion from Hurricane Irma,
Homeowners filed a claim with Insurer under their policy of
insurance. Insurer timely investigated and thereafter paid
Homeowners in excess of $100, 000 on their claim for both
mold damage and other interior damage to their home. Insurer,
however, declined to pay for certain exterior damages to the
home. Homeowners filed a breach of contract action, and
Insurer moved to dismiss and to compel an appraisal under the
terms of the insurance contract. Following a brief hearing,
the trial court entered the unelaborated order now under
review, denying the motion.
the pertinent facts here are undisputed, we apply the de novo
standard of review to the order denying the appraisal.
See People's Tr. Ins. Co. v. Garcia, 263 So.3d
231, 233 (Fla. 3d DCA 2019); People's Tr. Ins. Co. v.
Tracey, 251 So.3d 931, 933 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018).
argues that the trial court erred in denying its motion
because the dispute between the parties relates to the total
amount of Homeowners' loss, which it contends is properly
determined by appraisers under the terms of the insurance
contract. Homeowners respond that the trial court ruled
correctly because Insurer denied coverage for the exterior
damage to their home and, as such, whether this aspect of
their claim is covered under their insurance policy is a
determination to be made by the court. See State Farm
Fire & Cas. Co. v. Licea, 685 So.2d 1285, 1287 (Fla.
1996) ("A challenge of coverage is exclusively
a judicial question . . . ." (quoting
Midwest Mut. Ins. Co. v. Santiesteban, 287 So.2d
665, 667 (Fla. 1974))). Insurer disagrees, asserting that it
did not "wholly deny" coverage on Homeowners'
claim and that, under such circumstances, the Florida Supreme
Court has held this to be not a dispute over coverage but,
instead, merely a disagreement between the parties to the
insurance contract on the amount of the loss, which is an
issue to be determined under the contract by an appraisal.
See Johnson v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 828 So.2d
1021, 1022 (Fla. 2002). Insurer is correct.
instant case, Homeowners submitted one claim under their
policy for damage to their home caused by water intrusion.
Insurer agreed that this was a covered claim, paid a
significant amount of money on the claim to Homeowners or on
their behalf, but disagreed with them as to the total amount
owed. We conclude that under Johnson, coverage was
not "wholly denied" by Insurer and, under the terms
of the parties' insurance contract, an appraisal is
required to determine the total amount of the loss.
Therefore, and consistently with our sister courts that have
addressed this issue subsequent to Johnson, see
State Farm Ins. Co. v. Sheppard, 268 So.3d 1006 (Fla.
1st DCA 2019); MKL Enters. LLC, v. Am. Traditions Ins.
Co., 265 So.3d 730 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019); Garcia,
263 So.3d at 232; Tracey, 251 So.3d at 932, we
reverse the trial court's order and remand with
directions to compel an appraisal.
and REMANDED, with directions.
EDWARDS and EISNAUGLE, JJ., concur.