Cases Involving Section 627.428 Florida Statutes
In Nichols v. Preferred National Insurance Co., 704 So. 2d 1371, 1373 (Fla. 1997), this Court found that section 627.428(1) applies to sureties because a surety is considered an "insurer" as used in that statutory subsection. See Nichols, 704 So. 2d at 1373 (relying on the definition of "insurer" set forth in section 624.03, Florida Statutes (1995)).
Although Nichols involved a surety on a guardianship bond, this Court disapproved Dealers Insurance Co. v. Centennial Casualty Co., 644 So. 2d 571 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994), which involved a surety on a motor vehicle dealer bond under section 320.27(10), "to the extent that Dealers holds that section 627.428 does not apply to sureties." Nichols, 704 So. 2d at 1374.
In fact, this Court has consistently applied section 627.428, Florida Statutes, in the surety context. See Danis Indus. Corp. v. Ground Improvement Techniques, Inc., 645 So. 2d 420 (Fla. 1994); Insurance Co. of North America v. Acousti Eng'g Co. of Florida, 579 So. 2d 77 (Fla. 1991), receded from on other grounds by Turnberry Assocs. v. Service Station Aid, Inc., 651 So. 2d 1173 (Fla. 1995).
The apparent public policy underlying section 627.428 is to discourage insurers, including sureties, from contesting valid claims and to reimburse those forced into litigation to enforce their rights. See, e.g., Bell v. U.S.B. Acquisition Co., 734 So. 2d 403, 410 n.10 (Fla. 1999); State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Palma, 629 So. 2d 830, 833 (Fla. 1993).