Florida law distinguishes between insurance agents and insurance brokers. 1 I Essex Ins. Co. v. Zota Florida The Supreme Court defined an insurance broker as a person who "represents the insured by acting as an intermediary between the insured and the insurer and requesting insurance from the public without employment from any particular company … [and] places it with a company chosen by the insured. " 2 If the insured has no preference for the company, the broker can choose the company. 3 An insurance agent, on the other hand, is someone who" represents a insurer under an exclusive employment contract of the insurance company. " 4
The difference is significant because, in general," an agent's documents can be attributed to the insurer and a broker's documents can be attributed to the insured. 5 For example, a broker may be employed by the insured for the specific purpose of obtaining an insurance policy, while an insurance company and an agent may have an ongoing and continuous hip relationship. 6 Due to this relationship, insurance agents are sometimes called "prisoners" where their actions can bind the carrier. 7
Courts distinguish between three different agency relationships: factual, obvious and statutory. 8
To establish real agency, there must be:
- A confirmation from the principal that the agent will act for him;
- approval of the agent by the company, and
- control of the principal over the agent's documents. 9
To show obvious agency, a court must rule:
- There was a representation of the principal;
- the injured party relied on that representation; and
- the injured party changed position depending on the representation and suffered disadvantage. 10
Finally, an agent relationship can be found by law and between an insurance broker and a carrier. 19659003] Under section 626,342 (2) of the Florida Statutes, statutory agency may occur when an insurance company provides materials to a brokerage firm, which may include forms and applications used to request or negotiate a contract, and the insurance company accepts then deals from that broker. 12 In these types of circumstances, the broker's documents may impose civil liability on the carrier as if the carrier had appointed the broker as its agent (an exception exists when an insured knew or was aware that the broker had limited real authority. the three mentioned agency relationships can be established, a carrier can be considered responsible for the actions of these individuals.
1 Essex Ins. Co. v. Zota 985 So. 2d 1036, 1046 (Fla. 2008 ).
6 Amstar Ins. Co. v. Cadet 862 So. 2d 736, 740 (Fla. 5th DCA 2003).
7 Amstar Ins. Co. 862 So. 2d at 740.
8 Amstar Ins. Co. 862 So. 2d at 740.
9 Amstar Ins. Co. 862 So. 2d at 741.
10 Amstar Ins. Co. 862 So. 2d at 741, 742.
11 Amstar Ins. Co. 862 So. 2d at 740-741, 739.
12 Amstar Ins. Co. 862 So. 2d at 741, 742.
13 Amstar Ins. Co. 862 So. 2d at 741.