(1)(a) As used in this section, the term “consultant” means any individual or entity, or employee of the individual or entity, retained by an insurer to assist in the investigation of a fire, explosion, or suspected fraudulent insurance act.
Terms Used In Florida Statutes 633.126
- Contract: A legal written agreement that becomes binding when signed.
- Damages: Money paid by defendants to successful plaintiffs in civil cases to compensate the plaintiffs for their injuries.
- Division: means the Division of State Fire Marshal within the Department of Financial Services. See Florida Statutes 633.102
- Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
- Fire service provider: means a municipality or county, the state, the division, or any political subdivision of the state, including authorities and special districts, that employs firefighters or uses volunteer firefighters to provide fire extinguishment or fire prevention services for the protection of life and property. See Florida Statutes 633.102
- Fraud: Intentional deception resulting in injury to another.
- Misdemeanor: Usually a petty offense, a less serious crime than a felony, punishable by less than a year of confinement.
- Obligation: An order placed, contract awarded, service received, or similar transaction during a given period that will require payments during the same or a future period.
- person: includes individuals, children, firms, associations, joint adventures, partnerships, estates, trusts, business trusts, syndicates, fiduciaries, corporations, and all other groups or combinations. See Florida Statutes 1.01
- Personal property: All property that is not real property.
- Testify: Answer questions in court.
(b) The State Fire Marshal or an agent appointed pursuant to s. 633.114, an agent of the Division of Investigative and Forensic Services, any law enforcement officer as defined in s. 111.065, any law enforcement officer of a federal agency, or any fire service provider official who is engaged in the investigation of a fire or explosion loss may request any insurance company or its agent, adjuster, employee, or attorney, investigating a claim under an insurance policy or contract with respect to a fire or explosion to release any information whatsoever in the possession of the insurance company or its agent, adjuster, employee, or attorney relative to a loss from that fire or explosion. The insurance company shall release the available information to and cooperate with any official authorized to request such information pursuant to this section. The information shall include, but shall not be limited to:
1. Any insurance policy relevant to a loss under investigation and any application for such a policy.
2. Any policy premium payment records.
3. The records, reports, and all material pertaining to any previous claims made by the insured with the reporting company.
4. Material relating to the investigation of the loss, including statements of a person, proof of loss, and other relevant evidence.
5. Memoranda, notes, and correspondence relating to the investigation of the loss in the possession of the insurance company or its agents, adjusters, employees, or attorneys.
(2) If an insurance company has reason to suspect that a fire or explosion loss to its insured’s real or personal property was caused by intentional means, the company shall notify the State Fire Marshal and shall furnish her or him with all material acquired by the company during its investigation. The State Fire Marshal may adopt rules to implement this subsection.
(3) In the absence of fraud, bad faith, or malice, a representative of or consultant to an insurance company or of the National Insurance Crime Bureau employed to adjust or investigate losses caused by fire or explosion is not liable for damages in a civil action for furnishing information concerning fires or explosions suspected to be other than accidental to investigators employed by other insurance companies or the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
(4) No insurance company or person who furnishes information on its behalf shall be liable for damages in a civil action or subject to criminal prosecution for any oral or written statement made or any other action taken that is necessary and required by the provisions of this section.
(5) At such time as the release of the investigative records is required by law, the official or agency in possession of such records shall provide written notice to the insurance company providing the information and to all parties, at least 10 days prior to releasing such records. Official, departmental, or agency personnel may discuss such matters with other official, departmental, or agency personnel, and any insurance company complying with this section, and may share such information, if such discussion is necessary to enable the orderly and efficient conduct of the investigation. These discussions are confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 286.011.
(6) The actions of an insurance company or of its agents, employees, adjusters, consultants, or attorneys, in complying with the statutory obligation of this section may not be construed by a court as a waiver or abandonment of any privilege or confidentiality of attorney work product, attorney-client communication, or such other privilege or immunity as is provided by law.
(7) Any official described in subsection (1) may be required to testify as to any information in her or his possession regarding an insurance loss in any civil action in which any person seeks recovery under a policy against an insurance company for an insurance loss, subject to the provisions of subsection (6).
(8) No person may intentionally refuse to release any information requested pursuant to this section.