When a home or business property suffers damage in Florida, you will likely be able to file a claim with your insurance company for the damage.
The property damage caused may be part of a wider claim if anyone was injured but in few cases is as straightforward as it seems.
It can be a stressful time after freak weather or a criminal incident on your property. The last thing you need is for the insurance company to deny liability or pressure you into accepting a settlement that is not in your best interests.
So, what do you do when your home has been damaged and nobody wants to pay for reasonable repairs?
Who can be held liable and how can you recover the losses you have suffered?
Property damage disputes in Florida
A property can be damaged by burglary, vandalism or another crime. It may also be damaged by a natural disaster such as a freak storm or hurricanes which, as we know here in Florida, happen most years.
The type of insurance policy you have will determine what damages you can claim for your home or business.
Both residential and commercial property insurance companies generally provide coverage for damage from crimes. However, with natural disasters like hurricanes, when many properties make claims all at the same time, the insurer may provide special instructions for claims.
The bottom line is that if you have a valid homeowners insurance policy in Florida, you should be able to claim compensation regardless of how the damage occurred if it was through no fault of your own.
Some unscrupulous insurance companies may try to deny liability for damages. This is more common with cut-rate insurance policies. Sometimes, the company will claim that there was a technical error in the paperwork (such as a misspelt name or wrong address) which invalidates the policy. They may say that the policy has been rescinded.
Insurance companies must abide by the state regulations in Florida when responding to a claim. They must acknowledge receipt of your claim within 14 days and provide information about what is required to proceed (claim forms, etc.)
Liability may be denied in your case or payments are not made within 90 days of the insurance company accepting your claim. Alternatively, you and your insurance company disagree on the value of your property damages.
Issues such as these could lead to an official dispute and it is important to seek legal advice from a property damage attorney as soon as possible in such cases.
You will need evidence of the damages you are requesting, show that your policy is valid, and demonstrate that you have fulfilled your responsibilities as a claimant.
Most people struggle to handle this without legal advice. A qualified property damages lawyer will take over communications with the insurance company, start to compile the required evidence, and may be able to convince the insurers that they have simply made a mistake in your case. Alternatively, it may require the threat of litigation for damages.
Readers should understand that insurers know that most people do not understand complex insurance policies and may not fully understand their rights. Many homeowners may simply give up if their claim is denied, saving the insurance company large amounts of money and increasing their profits.
How long do you have to file a claim?
In Florida, the statute of limitations for property damage claims is four years from the date of the damage.
That means you need to file a claim within four years of the damage occurring or your case will not be heard – but this is extended by one year if you suffer unfair (“bad faith”) treatment by the insurance company.
Can you claim temporary accommodation costs if your home is uninhabitable?
If your property has suffered too much damage to be safe live or work in, you’ll need to check your policy for details on whether temporary accommodation arrangements are covered.
This is usually referred to as “additional living expense coverage” or “ALE”. Most policies in Florida do provide some coverage for this on a reimbursement basis but vary in the payment thresholds they provide.
What if you don’t have homeowner’s property insurance coverage?
There is no requirement under Florida law for a homeowner to purchase homeowners’ insurance but mortgage companies usually require it.
So, if you allowed your policy to lapse, the terms of most mortgage agreements entitle the lender to obtain coverage on your behalf.
This enforced and expensive coverage would be charged back to you. It is best to avoid this scenario and ensure that you have kept your insurance policy valid to protect your property investment.
What do you do when an insurance company tries to low-ball you on a settlement?
If you make a property damage claim and the proposed settlement from the insurance company is not forthcoming, things can become complex.
In many cases, the “claims adjusters” at the insurance company will try to contact you to accept part of the fault for the damage or get you to commit to a final settlement before you are ready.
Never make any rash decisions, no matter how badly you need the money for repairs. Once you sign the paperwork, there is no going back.
This applies to any type of property damage or personal injury claim – whether a damaged home or business, a car accident with a damaged vehicle or any other situation where personal property is damaged.
It’s generally inadvisable to attempt to handle this situation alone because the stakes are usually high. Speak to a qualified lawyer to evaluate your case and check whether the insurance company is offering you a fair settlement.
Our lawyers will assess your case and handle all communications with the insurance company by phone and in writing. Our negotiations will ensure that you receive fair and equitable compensation for your damaged property (and any other losses suffered).
We will talk to the claims adjusters and ensure they don’t attempt to talk to you about anything that they should be talking about with us.
The property damage lawyers at Johnson & Williams, P.A. in Orlando are experienced at insurance disputes.
If you have suffered additional damages because of “bad faith” actions on behalf of the insurer, we will seek damages such as the payment of attorney fees associated with the case, in addition to the original claim value.
We can help you seek recovery for your property damage, personal injuries, and other losses.
Call now for a consultation at (407) 245-1268 or please fill out the form below and we will get back to you within 24 hours.