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Can experts rely on the insured's statement when formulating their views? | Real Estate Insurance Coverage Blog



In real estate cases from a first party, it is common for an insured's expert to go to a property after the loss to investigate. During the investigation, an expert can ask the insured questions that are necessary to formulate that expert's opinions, such as the property's observable condition before the insured's loss, or which objects have been visibly damaged. This is because the expert has often never been to the property and must formulate an opinion on the cause and / or extent of the damage after the loss.

Carriers sometimes claim:

  1. An expert cannot trust such statements by formulating his opinion; or
  2. The statements of the insured are hearsay and are not admissible.

Section 90,801

of the Florida Statute defines hearsay as “a statement, other than a statement by the declarant when testifying at the trial or hearing, offered as evidence to prove the truth alleged. "Under the Florida Charter Section 90,802, and subject to limited exceptions, hearing evidence is generally not permitted. However, courts such as the Fifth District Court that ruled Vega v. State Farm Mutual Automobile 1 have argued that experts can rely in advance to reach an opinion on whether hearsay is of the type reasonably relied on by experts in the field. Since the conversation with an insured is but one of many factors that experts can consider when formulating opinions, the carrier's arguments against the property should be questionable. secondly, if an insured person can testify at a trial or hearing regarding the facts so m invoked by and communicated to an expert, these statements are not audible. Thus, these statements should be allowed.

At first glance, out-of-court statements that an insured person by an insured person may appear to be hearing impaired. However, Florida law offers experts the ability to rely on these statements under certain conditions and may also allow these statements to be introduced at a hearing or trial if the insured is available to testify.
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1 Vega v. State Farm Mut. Auto. 45 So. 3d 43, 45 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010).


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