Get legal help with your property insurance claim.
How does property insurance work? People buy property insurance to protect their homes, boats, personal, and business property against unexpected damage or loss. That protection comes in the form of money, with the idea that you will be able to fix or replace your damaged property with the insurance money after you make a claim.
The damage often is caused by fires, floods, and hurricanes. But most insurance policies cover a wide range of other things: termite damage, vandalism, hail, toilet backups, pipe breaks, air conditioning leaks, mold, and many more.
How do property insurance claims work?
The first thing that happens is you tell your insurance company that your property was damaged (aka file a property damage insurance claim). Most people do this with a phone call, but some insurance companies accept claims online. The person who answers the phone on that first call is usually just trying to get some basic information about your claim with the goal of getting your claim assigned to an adjuster.
Once you’ve reported the claim, you’ll receive the Florida Homeowner Bill of Rights and your provider will assign an adjuster to handle your claim. According to the Florida Homeowner Bill of Rights, your insurance carrier is required to acknowledge your property damage claim within 14 days of filing. A lot of insurance companies assign claims to two adjusters: a “desk adjuster” who might talk to you on the phone but won’t actually visit your property and a “field adjuster” who comes to your property. When there are two adjusters, the field adjuster tells the desk adjuster what he or she sees, and the desk adjuster makes the decision about your claim.
What is it like working with an insurance adjuster?
The adjuster will want to schedule a time to come look at your property and talk to you about what happened. At some point, the adjuster will want to get a recorded statement from you, where the adjuster asks you questions about your property and how the damage occurred, while making a recording. At the initial inspection, the adjuster will take lots of photos and measurements of your property.
Afterwards, the adjuster will prepare a report to the insurance company. You won’t get a copy of the report, but you will get letters from the insurance company. Those letters start with an acknowledgment of your claim. You’ll also probably get letters asking you for documents and something called a “Sworn Statement in Proof of Loss,” which is a form where you state the amount of your claim. The insurance company may also hire an engineer to give the insurance company an opinion about the cause of your damage.
What happens during the decision process filing property insurance claims?
What should happen is that you’re kept up to date on the decision making process and told how to request any insurance benefits you might be entitled to. As soon as the insurance company figures out that something is owed for the claim, it should advance some money to you to help get you back to normal. The adjuster should also respond to your calls and emails. Once the insurance company makes a decision, it should explain that decision in writing. If the decision is to pay the claim, the insurance company should explain why it is paying the amount it chose to pay you. If the insurance company denies the claim, it should set out the exact reasons why it decided not to cover the damage to your property.
What often happens instead are long periods of silence, unreturned calls, weeks and months with no decision and help, and requests for documents and information that don’t exist. Florida law says that insurance companies are supposed to “pay or deny” a claim within 90 days. But after 90 days, insurance companies still haven’t made a decision on many claims.
What can an attorney do to help with property insurance claims?
We are experts in property insurance claims. Clients hire us when their insurance companies don’t pay enough for a loss, don’t pay at all, or take too long to make a decision.
When we start working on a case, we take a fresh look at all of the facts, hire our own experts, and work with you to figure out what the decision should have been. We also help you understand the reasoning behind that decision — not with vague letters, but with conversations where we answer your questions.
After we’ve figured out how we think your claim should have been handled, we make a plan for making things right. Sometimes that involves confronting the insurance company to convince it to change positions. Often it involves filing a lawsuit to force the insurance company to accept responsibility for covering the loss.
If you’re dealing with an insurance company that hasn’t paid your claim, has not paid enough, or is delaying, you can give us a call at (727) 821-3195 for a free consultation about your claim and your options. You pay nothing unless we win.
Case ResultsSee More Case Results
Shifflet v. Citizens Insurance
Citizens denied our client’s claim, saying that it didn’t have to pay because the damage was caused by decaying organic soil. We filed suit and, after a week-long jury trial, the jury found for our client.
Underpaid Fire Loss
Our client’s home was burned in an accidental fire. The insurance company delayed paying and, when it finally paid, didn’t pay enough to replace the home. We fought for additional living expense, building coverage, lost rental income, and other available coverage. After going through an appraisal and then filing a lawsuit, we were able to recover over $450,000 from the insurance company.