Due to the frequent occurrence of natural disasters in Florida, owning property comes with significant risks. The damage to your home or business can easily lead to you losing not just your investment, but also your standard of living. It is often difficult to determine when you need legal help after an incident that causes property damage. Additionally, dealing with the insurance company can be challenging to say the least. If you’re a Florida resident, then you should consider talking to one of our property damage claims attorneys.
If you think your insurance provider is treating you unjustly, our insurance dispute lawyers want to hear your story. Here’s what you need to do:
- Call (727) 821-3195 if you want to speak to an attorney right now.
- Fill out the contact form if you’d like to schedule your free consultation for a later date.
- Collect any pertinent details related to your property damage insurance claim to review with the attorney.
In the event your claim is underpaid, denied, or unjustly closed, an experienced property damage claim lawyer can help improve your odds of recovering the compensation you deserve from your insurance company. Herman & Wells has a proven track record of successfully disputing property damage claims.
Call (727) 821-3195 if you’d like to speak with one of our property damage claims attorneys immediately. During this initial consultation, our attorney will review your insurance claim for free. Our law firm’s main offices are in Pinellas Park, but we have attorneys in St. Petersburg, Tampa, Seminole, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Bradenton, and Sarasota.
Unhappy With Your Insurance Provider’s Decision? When Should You Dispute?
You should fight back if your insurance company denies your claim. It is at this point that you should consult an attorney. An experienced property damage lawyer can help increase your chances of success. The more damage documentation you provide and the more evidence you provide to support your claim, the more likely an insurance company will settle for a larger amount that will cover your needs. In the event that the insurance company does not offer a reasonable settlement, there is a possibility you could go to court, meaning evidence becomes even more crucial.
Why It Is Always Worth Consulting With a Property Damage Claims Attorney in Florida
Despite the fact that our insurance companies have a responsibility to investigate and value our losses fairly, you can’t always rely on them. They only care about their own liability. It’s in your best interest to consult a property damage lawyer to guide you through the claims process.
How Do Property Damage Claims Differ From Personal Injury Claims?
A property loss or damage claim refers to a request for compensation to cover losses or damages to your property that you file with your insurance company. The only difference between these claims and personal injury claims is that they only cover personal property losses. If an incident results in both property damage and personal injury, separate claims must be filed for each one. Items or property that have been damaged or destroyed are likely covered or insured by your homeowners insurance.
The cost of repairs, the loss of use, sentimental value, and overall replacement value are the primary factors in determining a property damage claim. In the event of an accident or natural disaster, one of the first things you’d do is contact your insurance company to file a claim for property damage. In order to make sure that any potential damages to your property are covered, it’s always a good idea to review your insurance policy. Florida policyholders should learn more about property damage insurance and how it works before filing a claim for property damage.
How To File a Property Damage Insurance Claim in Florida?
Notify Your Homeowner’s Insurance Company ASAP
You should report the property damage claim to your insurance company as soon as possible. You need to provide the following information:
- Policy number
- Type of claim (winter storm, hurricane, flood, fire, etc.)
- Description of damage to your home and personal belongings
Keep in mind that a property claim can be denied if you don’t comply with the stated time limits in your policy contract. Regardless of whether or not you have to evacuate the property, you should still contact your insurance company right away. You can either call or go online to do this, depending on your insurance company.
As soon as your insurance company receives notification, the claim process begins. 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.
Securing the Premises and Your Property
Make sure your home and the premise are secure to prevent additional damage to your property and the possibility of third parties becoming injured on site. Your policyholder responsibilities include mitigating additional damages following a disaster.
Consider Working with a Public Adjuster
You will be assigned an adjuster from your insurance company after you file a claim for property damage. In most cases, policyholders assume that the adjuster of their insurance company is looking out for their best interests – on the contrary, the adjuster is looking out for the insurance company’s interests. If you choose, you can hire professionals to assist you in filing a claim, such as a public adjuster.
Property damage claims are complicated and time-consuming for homeowners if they are not familiar with their insurance policy, jargon, and industry standards.
Also, keep the following in mind when filing a property damage claim in Florida:
Don’t Repair Anything Before Your Insurance Company Acknowledges & Approves It
Before you make changes to your home, contact your insurance company and discuss what repairs are needed and what they will cost. It is important to document all discussions and agreements, not only verbal ones.
Don’t Throw Anything Away
After you file a property damage claim with your insurance company, they’ll request evidence to support it. This can include personal belongings, damaged items, receipts, etc. Anything that can be used to support your property damage insurance claim should be saved until it can be properly documented by your insurance adjuster.
You Don’t Have to Use Your Insurance Company’s Preferred Vendors
It is your right to hire your own experts, such as contractors, public adjusters, engineers, etc., whether it is the insurance company’s adjuster or the contractor the insurance company recommends. In most cases, this is in your best interest.
Contact Our Florida Property Damage Claims Attorneys ASAP
The insurance industry makes more profits by denying as many property damage claims as possible. According to their own policies, their bottom line relies on avoiding paying out for damages, many of which are protected by rights. This means policyholders are at a disadvantage. There are lawyers on the insurance company’s side who know the system inside out. In order to get you to settle for a much lower amount than you deserve, they often use loopholes, low-ball offers, and delaying tactics.
Our first step in a property damage case is to thoroughly review all of the facts, hire our own experts, and work with you to determine what decision your insurance company should have made. Moreover, we make sure you understand how that decision was reached. Following an evaluation of how we think your claim should have been handled, we devise a plan for resolving the issue. It may be necessary to confront the insurance company to persuade it to change its decision. A lawsuit is often necessary to force the insurance company to accept responsibility for covering the loss.
How Are Property Damage Claims Paid Out in Florida?
If the structure of your home and your personal belongings are damaged, you will usually receive a separate check from your insurance company for each category of damage. Additionally, if your home is uninhabitable, a check will be sent to cover additional living expenses you incur while your home is being repaired. You’ll need a separate check if you have flood insurance and flood damage.
You and your mortgage lender will generally both receive checks for repairs if you have a mortgage on your house. In most cases, lenders condition granting a mortgage on their inclusion in the homeowner’s policy and their participation in any insurance payments related to the property. You may also be required to name the building’s financial entity as a co-insured if you live in a coop or condominium.
Taking care of the repairs is a requirement of the lender (or overall building in the case of a coop/condo) who has a financial interest in your property.
Furthermore, you might be asked to sign a “direction to pay” form to allow your insurance company to pay the contractor directly. This is a legal document, so make sure you read it carefully so that you do not also assign the contractor your entire claim. Consult your insurance professional if you have any doubts. When you assign your entire insurance claim to a third party, you are removing yourself from the process and giving the contractor control over your claim. Make sure that the work done on your property has been completed to your satisfaction before letting your insurer make the final payment.
Property Damage Categories (Typically) Covered By Florida Insurance Companies
Some homeowners and property insurance plans in Florida cover certain equipment and damages, regardless of the policy. The following conditions may result in a property damage claim:
Damage Caused By Water (Including Freeze Damage)
Florida home insurance policies often cover damage from burst pipes or other water-related incidents. Many areas in Florida experience freezing damage during the winter. If you want to prevent water damage from occurring to your property, you should routinely check your pipes for leaks.
The risk of mold damage is a major concern for both business owners and homeowners. Not only can mold cause property damage, but it can also cause serious health issues. It’s important to be aware of mold problems in your home or building because insurance companies often dispute such claims.
Wind & Storm Damage
It is also common for Florida homeowners to file property damage claims following intense storms like hurricanes. Due to the fact that the damage has been caused by an act of nature, your insurance plan should cover these damages. Damages caused by hurricanes, hail storms, tornadoes, or other storms are typically covered in our insurance policy. That being said, it is also not uncommon to have more denials and policyholders feeling mistreated after a destructive hurricane. This can be an overwhelming scenario and you should not hesitate to contact a property damage claims attorney if you feel you’ve been taken advantage of.
Fire & Smoke Damage
Unlike storm damage claims, fire and smoke damage claims are not as common, but comprehensive insurance policies usually cover these damages. You will want to make sure that your Florida insurance policy covers everything from grease fires in the kitchen to lingering smoke damage to the structure.
Burglary, Theft, Or Vandalism
In addition to natural disasters or general property damage, you can also file a claim if your property has been damaged by burglary, theft, or vandalism. You may be covered for the following types of property, depending on your policy:
- Equipment for offices
- Other personal belongings
Types of Property Damage That May Not Be Covered By Your Insurance
In spite of the fact that homeowners insurance is designed to cover a variety of emergencies and disasters, there are a few exceptions to that rule. Standard homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage caused by earthquakes and floods, for example. If you live in an area that is prone to floods or earthquakes, you’ll need to purchase a separate policy or upgrade your coverage. Additionally, you should be aware that some property insurance policies do not cover damage caused by termites and other pests.
Most Common Property Damage Disputes in Florida
As you can imagine, wind and hurricanes are responsible for some of the most destructive weather events in Florida. As hurricanes are common in Florida, the state has unique hurricane coverage rules. Hurricane season can be prepared for, but sometimes these steps alone are not enough. For storm damage, Florida insurance companies offer homeowner’s insurance policies that have a percentage deductible instead of a standard fixed deductible. For instance, a hurricane damage claim would require you to pay the first $15,000 if your home is insured for $300,000 and your deductible is 5%.
Hurricanes typically cause widespread destruction, leading to thousands of related claims. This may overwhelm both insurers and contractors with the average hurricane causing $20.5 billion in damage. A large number of claims gives insurance companies a strong financial incentive to reduce payouts, which may result in bad faith claims, cutting corners, and unfair settlement offers. In the event of a hurricane damaging your roof, your insurer may claim the damage was due to normal wear and tear. Additionally, the damage may be undervalued. It’s not common for claims to be handled in an unreasonably long period of time after a major natural disaster.
How Do Our Property Damage Claims Attorneys Get Paid If You Hire Us?
Our property damage attorneys are compensated on a contingency basis. In a contingency fee agreement, your attorney is only paid if they win your case. A lawyer’s fee is usually about one-third of the settlement (according to the American Bar Association), or up to 40 percent if the case goes to trial. Just keep in mind that nothing is owed if our insurance dispute attorneys aren’t able to successfully advocate for you. In general, our clients never receive an invoice of any type from us. Our law firm would also not be in business long if we didn’t have a team of highly skilled attorneys that are driven to do everything they can for their clients.
Book a Free Legal Consultation With Our Property Damage Claims Attorneys
If you are denied a claim unfairly or it is undervalued, remember that you have rights. A denied property damage claim can be appealed and even taken to court if necessary. Has your homeowner’s insurance company unjustly denied your insurance claim? Get in touch with Herman & Wells today to schedule a free legal consultation with one of our property damage claims attorneys in Florida who can assist you with wrongfully closed, denied, or underpaid insurance claims.
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.