How much is my property insurance case worth?

You made an insurance claim for your property that was damaged, destroyed, lost or stolen.  Then you received a letter from your insurance company telling you what the insurance company thinks the claim is worth—whether its zero (a denied claim) or the repair estimate prepared by the insurance company’s adjuster.

Does that letter reflect how much your claim is worth?  Many times: no.

Insurance companies deny claims that should be paid, and often pay too little when they do agree to provide coverage for a loss.

For each property insurance case, the first thing we look at is the insurance policy.  A property insurance policy sets out what is covered and what is not covered.  It also sets the amount of coverage available in general, and for specific items and losses.  For example, many policies limit the amount of coverage available for jewelry or for damage caused by mold.  Sometimes there are coverage extensions for certain types of losses, which provide more coverage than the stated policy limit.  Different losses also sometimes have different deductibles, which the policy addresses.  Most insurance policies have forms called “endorsements” that change the terms of the main policy form.  We review the policy and what courts have said about similar policy language, and determine what parts of your loss are covered by the insurance policy, and whether there are any limitations on that coverage.

Once we know what the insurance company should have covered, we have to determine the amount of loss for each covered part of the loss.  This usually involves working with experts to determine what repairs are needed and the cost of those repairs.  We also gather information from our client to determine the amount of some losses – such as personal property, additional living expenses, or lost business income.

These two issues let us determine the value of the insurance claim, which should have been paid without forcing you to hire an attorney.

But the value of a property insurance lawsuit involves more than just the claim.  Florida law allow policyholders the right to claim attorneys’ fees, costs, and interest if they win a case against their insurance company.  Depending on the facts, the insurance company could also be liable for bad faith damages—harms caused by the insurance company’s failure to act in good faith towards its insured.  The law requires certain conditions be met before these additional items can be claimed.  Additional issues like bad faith damages and fees typically increase the value of property insurance cases, and cause the case to continue to increase in value as it progresses through litigation.

If your insurance claim was denied, or if you think your claim was underpaid, give us a call at 727-821-3195.  You can also contact us through our website using the form to the right.  We’ll discuss your insurance claim with you over the phone or in person, and tell you our thoughts about what should be covered under your insurance policy and what should be paid.  Please don’t simply accept the insurance company’s number as the true value of your claim and case without first seeing what your options are.

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