Agent & Broker Litigation
Agents and brokers have fiduciary relationships with their clients, creating duties to perform their services with competence and loyalty. Customers who receive an unfavorable outcome may believe the reason is negligence, incompetence or intentional misconduct on the part of their trusted professional. Florida business and commercial litigation attorneys at Schwed Kahle & Kress routinely handle agent and broker litigation involving insurance agents, real estate agents, and investment advisors and financial institutions. Contact our offices in Palm Beach Gardens and throughout Florida to learn more about how we can help with your potential claims.
Policyholders are understandably frustrated after paying premiums for months or years, only to file a claim and find that it is excluded under their policy. Whether the failure to obtain needed or intended coverage is the fault of the agent or the insured, however, is often a complicated issue to resolve.
An agent or broker, whether independent or working for a specific carrier, does stand in a fiduciary relationship toward the insured. However, this duty typically only requires the broker to inform and explain coverage which is being purchased and take reasonable care in procuring the coverage specifically requested by the customer or clearly warranted by the customer’s express needs.
Sometimes the agent or broker may in fact have an extended duty to recommend types and amounts of coverage. The existence of this duty depends on the existence of a special relationship between agent and client. Such a special relationship has been found in such instances as:
- Policyholder justifiably relies on a misrepresentation of the agent
- Agent voluntary assumes the responsibility to advise the client
- Agent holds oneself out as an expert
- Agent exercises broad discretion and is paid more than is customary for services
- Agent is intimately involved in the insured’s business affairs or regularly gives advice or assistance to the insured
Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents are professionals and as such are held to the standards of other members of their profession, such as the Code of Ethics and Professional Standards of the National Association of Realtors®. Real estate agents must practice according to the appropriate standard of care and also owe fiduciary duties to their clients. Agents can be responsible for financial loss tied to professional misconduct, such as the diminution in value of property, the cost to repair or replace a defective condition, closing costs, lost profits and emotional distress. Agent or broker misconduct could include situations like the following:
- Misrepresenting the value of the property
- Misrepresenting the condition of the property, including flooding or leaks
- Withholding, omitting, failing to disclose or misrepresenting square footage, structural issues, or property line and boundary issues
- Actual fraudulent intent to steal money or property through rental fraud, renovation fraud, foreclosure bailouts, etc.
Experienced Florida Agent & Broker Litigation Attorneys
Call Schwed Kahle & Kress in Palm Beach Gardens for advice and representation in agent and broker litigation in Palm Beach and across Florida statewide.