Most people — and especially in Florida, where tropical storms and hurricanes are a regular threat — purchase home insurance under the assumption that their insurer will make reasonable attempts to compensate them when something goes wrong and they suffer property damage. The unfortunate reality, however, is that insurers (even in the homeowner insurance context) are in the business of minimizing their claim payouts. If you’ve suffered property losses to your home, you may find that your insurer makes you a lowball offer, or denies your claim entirely. In some (rare) cases, your insurer may even fail to make payments after reaching a settlement.
A number of different factors can negatively affect the likelihood that an insurer will settle a claim for a reasonable value. Consider the following non-exhaustive list.
Failure to Mitigate
Homeowners have a responsibility to make reasonable efforts to mitigate damages and protect their home from suffering further damages, where possible. This may involve repairs. For example, a homeowner cannot knowingly allow wood rot to destroy their home without making reasonable efforts to prevent the spread (perhaps by hiring a contractor to treat the rot and repair the damaged areas).
Partial or Non-Disclosure of Facts
Your homeowner insurance policy application should have contained a full disclosure of all material facts pertaining to the property. If certain relevant facts were not disclosed in the application, the insurer may use that as justification to deny your claim.
Event is Not Covered by the Policy
Whether a given event is “covered” or “non-covered” is a question that often surfaces in homeowner insurance situations where the insurer denies the claim. A skilled insurance attorney can assess your contract and precisely determine what constitutes a covered event and a non-covered event, finding a way to utilize the contract language to categorize the event that caused your losses as a “covered” event.
Conditions Were Not Satisfied
Depending on your homeowner insurance policy, you may have a variety of conditions that you’re required to satisfy throughout the life of the contract. If you fail to comply the requirements and conditions imposed on you under the insurance contract, then the insurer may use that as justification for invalidating the contract and therefore denying your claim.
Deadline Has Passed
Section 95.11 of the Florida Statutes gives homeowners five years (from the date of the damage) to file their insurance claims before the statutory deadline passes. If the deadline passes, then the insurer has no legal obligation to accept your claim. As such, it’s critical that you file your claim as soon as possible after you have discovered serious damage to your home.
In situations involving homeowners’ insurance claims, it is unfortunately common for insurers to deny claims altogether, fail to make a reasonable claim settlement offer, and otherwise act in a way that minimizes your ability to recover for your losses. Insurers tend to take an aggressive stance when it comes to property loss assessment. As such, it’s important that you work with a property insurance lawyer who is experienced in handling homeowner insurance claims and in successfully navigating the roadblocks presented by insurers.
Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin is a Florida insurance litigation firm that has been serving policyholder clients throughout the state since 1995. Our attorneys have experience with both sides of insurance litigation and are therefore well-equipped to respond to the strategies that insurance defense attorneys employ.
To schedule a free consultation with an experienced Miami property insurance lawyer, call 305-577-3996 today.Share