Feb 27

Are Insurance Proceeds for Hurricane Repairs Protected by Florida’s Constitution?

Hurricane Irma

Hurricanes are part of Florida living. Our constitutional homestead protection for our homes is also part of our heritage, dating back to the 1868 Florida Constitution. We know that our family home is protected by the constitution in a way that prevents creditors from forcing the sale of the family residence. What if the home is damaged by a storm and you receive money to repair the home? Is that money protected?

In Quiroga v. Citizens Prop. Ins. Corp., 34 So. 3d 101, 102 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2010), the Third District said YES! The court also found that the homeowner did not waive the homestead protection in a fee agreement with his lawyer. The court’s opinion explains:

In the event a homestead is damaged through fire, wind or flood, the proceeds of any insurance recovery are imbued with the same privilege. Orange Brevard Plumbing & Heating Co. v. La Croix, 137 So. 2d 201, 203-04 (Fla. 1962). Because Quiroga did not and, as a matter of public policy in this State, cannot through an unsecured agreement, such as the contingent fee agreement in this case, enter into an enforceable contract to divest himself from the exemptions afforded him through Article X, section 4(a), see [**3] Chames v. DeMayo, 972 So. 2d 850, 853 (Fla. 2007), this Court is compelled to affirm the order under review, the equities of the matter notwithstanding. See Pub. Health Trust of Dade County v. Lopez, 531 So. 2d 946, 951 (Fla. 1990) (“The homestead protection has never been based upon principles of equity.”) (citing Bigelow v. Dunphe, 143 Fla. 603, 197 So. 328, 330 (Fla. 1940)); Pierrepont v. Humphreys (In re Newman’s Estate), 413 So. 2d 140, 142 (Fla. 5th DCA 1982) (“The homestead character of a piece of property…arises and attaches from the mere existence of certain facts in combination in place and time.”).

Once again, the court’s recognized the sacred protection in our constitution to protect the family home.

Thanks to Florida attorneys Justin Savioli for sharing this hard-to-find case, and to Steve Kotler for sharing Justin’s find.