Florida is home to over 20 million residents, many of whom own homes and businesses. Although the sunshine state is well-regarded for its warm weather and beautiful vacation spots, Florida residents also face some of the most severe and costly natural disasters in the country.
Natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and other incidents such as hail storms and tornadoes in Florida result in millions of dollars in expenses each year. According to the Insurance Information Institute, natural disasters alone cost the state an estimated $52 billion in insured losses in 2018.
Florida insurance holders who suffer damage to their home or business have the option of filing a claim with their insurance to receive cost coverage for repairs and replacement costs.
However, it’s well-known among Florida property damage lawyers that receiving a fair property damage claim from insurance companies is not always so easy as filing a claim. Policyholders who pay their premiums can still face great difficulty in receiving claims from their insurers that are large enough to fully cover their losses.
If you’re having trouble securing a reasonable settlement from your insurance company and wish to dispute your claim, you may be eligible to take legal action against your insurer to seek a fair settlement for your losses.
Types Of Property Damage Cases
There are many different types of situations that can cause property damage, including natural disasters, vehicle crashes, burglary, and other accidents. Any of these situations can lead Florida property owners to file a claim with their insurers for compensation.
Unfortunately, some individuals may receive a low payout in Florida which may lead to a claims dispute.
Common types of property damage disputes our lawyers see include claims for:
- hurricane damage
- water damage
- wind and tornadoes
- mold damage
- hail damage
- severe thunderstorms
- smoke damage
- theft and vandalism
- commercial equipment damage
- insurance agent negligence
Insurance policyholders who pay the applicable costs for their policies are entitled to coverage offered in their plans for covered losses. Getting anything less can be frustrating and cause undue financial stress for individuals who are simply trying to restore their property to its previous state.
Florida Property Damage Insurance Laws
Many insurance policies contain complex legal and technical language that can be difficult for the average person to parse through, creating an advantage for some insurers that wish to reduce or deny legitimate claims unjustly.
In Florida, there are several different types of insurance that can be applicable to instances of property damage claim disputes.
This includes insurance claim disputes involving:
- homeowners insurance
- business or commercial property insurance
- hurricane damage
- water damage
- insurance for other types of personal property, such as art, jewelry, and personal watercrafts
Property damage insurance laws vary by state, and may in some cases be established on a local or county-wide basis. In Florida, property damage claims may be subject to state laws and regulations stipulated in homeowners’ and automobile insurance policies.
Florida Homeowners Insurance
Florida homeowners face some of the highest homeowner insurance premiums in the United States. The types of coverage offered in Florida homeowners insurance can vary depending on the company under which you are insured and your specific insurance policy.
After paying premiums for your insurance, it’s reasonable to expect a stress-free process for receiving coverage for property losses. As a responsible policyholder, you are entitled to file and receive a claim for covered losses.
However, not every Florida property owner is aware of the limitations of their homeowners insurance. For instance, damage from flooding is typically not included in Florida homeowners insurance. Many Florida property policies also require higher deductibles for property damage caused by hurricanes, or require the purchase of a separate policy for hurricane damage.
If you file a claim with your insurer for losses that aren’t covered within your policy, they may have a legal right to deny your claim. However, some insurance carriers may also attempt to challenge the losses you’ve listed in your claim in order to reduce or unfairly deny your claim.
Homeowners insurance policies often include caveats and exclusions that policyholders aren’t even aware of until they’re in a situation where they need to file a claim for property damage. Before filing a claim with your insurer, it’s recommended that you read through your policy carefully to ensure that the losses you’re filing for are covered under your policy.
Florida Personal Property Insurance
Separate insurance policies may be required for Florida residents who own a car, motorcycle, or property such as a boat to insure and cover property losses.
All drivers in the state of Florida, for instance, are required to have auto insurance. As a no-fault state, Florida law requires that drivers carry personal injury protection (PIP) to file a claim with their insurer for personal injury expenses regardless of fault and a minimum of $10,000 in mandatory property damage liability (PDL) coverage.
For auto accidents that involve property damage, it is typically the at-fault driver and their insurance carrier who are held liable for covering associated property damage losses. However, you will still likely need to report this damage to your own insurance carrier to comply with contractual obligations.
In addition to car accident claims, other types of claims that may be filed for personal property damage include:
- large trucks
- musical instruments
- personal watercrafts (e.g. boat, yacht, jet-skis)
- expensive electronics
- commercial property
- business interruption
Insurance claims must be filed according to the types of damage you’ve suffered and the relevant policy under which you’re insured. For property damage resulting from a car accident, for instance, you’ll need to file a claim with your auto insurance.
Property loss from vandalism or theft, on the other hand, is typically covered under an individual’s homeowner’s policy or business property insurance, depending on where the incident occurs.
Seeking Coverage For Property Damage From Your Insurance
Insurance companies are required by Florida law to attend to claims filed by their policyholders and provide fair settlements that are in accordance with the policyholder’s losses.
If you’re a responsible policyholder who has paid your premiums and filed a claim with your insurer, you’re entitled to fair coverage as detailed within your policy.
Florida insurance carriers are required to adhere to certain legal obligations.
Legal obligations of insurance carriers in the state of Florida include:
- taking prompt action upon receiving a claim from a policyholder
- properly investigating all claims according to industry standards before denying or presenting a value for the payout
- providing coverage for losses that are covered under the insured’s policy
- providing accurate information regarding the types of coverage included within the insured’s policy
- providing a reasonable explanation for the denial of a claim and adhering to requests for additional information promptly
- communicating the investigation of a claim within 30 days of receiving a claim from a policyholder
- paying undisputed property damage claims within 90 days of the policyholder filing the claim
- paying attorney fees for policyholders who prevail in filing a claim against the insurance carrier for coverage as a result of a claims dispute
Insurance companies who don’t abide by their legal obligations may be reasonably accused of operating in bad faith, which may entitle policyholders to take legal action against the insurer to seek a fair settlement.
Reasons Why Your Property Damage Claim Might Be Denied
Insurance companies that operate in bad faith may unjustly deny claims filed by their policyholders for property damage coverage. However, it’s beneficial to understand contexts in which an insurance carrier might legally deny a claim.
Under Florida law, insurance carriers may rightfully deny a claim in the following circumstances:
- filing a claim for property losses that aren’t covered under your policy
- failing to pay your premiums on time
- filing your claim past the deadline stated within your insurance policy
- failing to meet your insurer’s proof of loss requirements, which involves providing a complete inventory of your property losses
Denying insurance claims, however, is not always clear-cut. Some insurance companies may attempt to circumvent their obligation to provide a fair payout amount by manipulating the stipulations of a policy to their advantage or providing misleading explanations of included coverage.
Even still, an insurance adjuster who is ill-trained or swamped with claims might also mismanage a claim, unjustly resulting in an undervalued or denied claim.
Insurance companies that mismanage a policyholder’s claim or purposely undervalue a claim must be held accountable for their actions. If you’re unsure how to dispute a property damage claim or require assistance to file a dispute against your insurer, an experienced property damage lawyer may be able to help.
Do I Need A Property Damage Lawyer To Resolve My Claim?
Disputing an insurance claim can be a tricky process. Due to the financial stake insurance carriers have in preserving their cash reserves, adjusters may use misleading language or manipulate your situation to allege that your dispute is illegitimate—even if your claim is valid.
An experienced property damage lawyer can investigate your case to determine whether your insurance carrier has acted in bad faith and what their legal obligations are to you as you seek a fair settlement for your property losses.
Voted one of America’s top law firms, the Florida law offices of Florin|Roebig have extensive experience in handling cases involving property damage claim disputes and ensuring our clients receive every dollar they’re owed.
At Florin|Roebig, our Florida property damage lawyers can:
- determine whether your insurer has acted in bad faith
- explain to you your legal rights as a Florida property owner and translate the legal language in your insurance policy so you can better understand your coverage
- gather documentation and other evidence to support your claim against the insurer
- provide an estimate for how much your case is worth
- handle all communications with your insurance carrier
- go to trial if necessary to fight for every dollar you are owed based on the extent of your property losses and other damages related to bad-faith insurance practices
Florin|Roebig: One Of Florida’s Top-Rated Property Damage Law Firms
If you’re a Florida property owner who’s complied with your insurer’s policy requirements, you’re entitled to receive a fair payout for the full extent of your property losses. The property damage lawyers of Florin|Roebig can help ensure this happens by investigating your case and fighting for a fair settlement on your behalf.
Don’t wait to learn what your case may be worth. Call the offices of Florin|Roebig today to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our top-rated property damage lawyers to determine your eligibility for taking legal action against your insurer.