Experiencing a property loss can be a traumatic, overwhelming, and expensive experience, which is why everyone who owns property (residential or commercial) should carry property insurance. Property insurance policies frequently cover damages to structures (a building), unattached structures (garages or sheds), and personal property (items within a structure like household furniture and electronics). Property insurance frequently has coverages that may be unknown to an insured such as additional living expenses (ALE), which pay the cost of living in a temporary location while repairs are being made, and law and ordinance coverage, which pays for repairs required by building codes that have changed since the structure was built. In commercial claims there are additional coverages, like business interruption (loss of income from business as a result of the incident) that can come into play following a loss.
The most common forms of property damage include:
While each of these types of loss should trigger coverage under an insured’s policy, insurance companies will find ways to minimize damage or deny the claim.
The purpose of property insurance is to put an insured back where he or she would have been, had the loss never occurred. However, insurance companies will try to avoid their obligations by underpaying and undervaluing claims, or by denying them altogether claiming that some or all of the damages are outside the scope of the policy coverages.
As a policy holder, an insured expects that when a loss occurs his or her insurance company will honor the policy and make appropriate payments to bring the property back to its pre-loss condition. However, many times the insurance company does not do what is required under the policy. Some insurance companies chronically deny claims, regardless of their legitimacy, and will only be responsive or take investigative action if the insured seeks legal representation or otherwise takes legal action.
Navigating a property insurance claim, whether residential or commercial, can be very difficult and confusing with many legal nuances. Insurance companies are in the business of making money by analyzing property damage following a loss and interpreting policy language in their favor in order to make the smallest payments possible, or even worse, to deny a claim entirely. Although insurance companies should honor their policies, frequently their goal is to minimize payouts or simply to refuse to pay at all.
Our firm will work with experts, selected by us, to identify the true cost of repair for the damages to your property. Frequently there are areas of damage unobserved or unknown to the insured until an expert has inspected the property and the damages. The experts that our firm relies upon level the playing field when fighting against big insurance companies and help to honestly assess an insured’s claim.
In many instances when hiring an attorney, a percentage of the recovery is used to pay the lawyer’s fee. In Florida, claims based on property insurance are paid by the insurer directly to the attorney in the event of a settlement or jury verdict. This ensures that every insured receives the money needed to make the repairs to their property without any deduction or payment for legal fees.
Sometimes insurance companies behave in unethical ways or conduct improper claims handling procedures such as using stall tactics, refusing to pay the full value of your claim, unreasonably relying upon or interpreting policy language, totally failing to timely or correctly investigate your claim, or even by requiring a written release of a claim as a condition of payment. This behavior is called “acting in bad faith” and is prohibited under Florida law. When an insurance company acts in Bad Faith it creates an entirely new issue and possible cause of action. Florida enacted its “Bad Faith” statue in order to punish the insurance companies for improper dealings and not acting with your best interest in mind. Should an insurance company act in Bad Faith during your insurance claim, our firm will take all necessary steps to preserve and act upon this new cause of action and claim against the insurance company.