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Homeowners Insurance Claims

Homeowner Insurance claims are designed to recover money for property damage due to some type of disaster like hurricanes. Most of the time the biggest claim a person can recover for hurricane damage is for wind damage. It is important to remember that flood insurance often must be purchased as a separate policy and is not covered under the traditional homeowner insurance claims. Normally a homeowner's policy covers damage on the inside and outside of the home. Under Florida Statute, 627.0629(6), insurers are actually required to provide coverage for windstorm or hurricane coverage for residential properties. Hurricane coverage is defined as, "coverage for loss or damage caused by peril of windstorm during a hurricane." This includes damage to property caused by rain, snow, sleet, hail, sand, or dust if the wind created an entry for these things to get into the homeland cause damage. A windstorm is defined as wind, wind gusts, hail, tornadoes, or cyclones which were caused from a hurricane and resulted in damage to the property. Finally, a hurricane is defined as is any storm declared by the National Hurricane Center of the National Weather Service to be a hurricane. The time frame for this claim is when the first warning is issued for any part of Florida, through the time the hurricane takes place and then ends seventy-two hours after the termination of the last hurricane watch or warning. §627.4025, Fla. Stat. Ann.

Types of damages you can claim:

  • Structural damage - roof, walls, windows, any physical property damage
  • Exterior damage - pools, yard, fence
  • Personal property - furniture, appliances
  • Hotel reimbursement - cost of you having to stay while your property is being restored and during the storm

These are not all the possible claims that could be had after the storm, but they cover the biggest ones most insureds would be facing. When filing for a claim you will not be able to recover the actual cost that you paid for the item but rather the replacement value of that item. Depreciation over time of the items will be considered.

The Claims Process and Related Issues

An insurance policy issue really comes down to a contractual dispute. One party agrees to pay an amount for a period of time in exchange for reimbursement of property if some disaster were to happen. Insurance claims for things like, hurricane damage, can become very costly and like any other business insurance companies want to keep their costs as minimum as possible. However, legally insurance companies owe their insureds a duty of good faith. A good faith duty means that insurers must act for the benefit of their clients and must deal with each one in a fair and just way. There are claim issues that arise from insurance companies, delaying payment for example, or not paying due to a loophole are some common issues that arise with insurance claims. The insurer may say "well the entire property wasn't damage by the hurricane, so we are only going to give an apportioned amount back" or they will send adjusters who give a cost estimate but then when the insured goes to look for someone to repair his/her home it is discovered that there is no way to make the repairs for the small amount the insurance company was going to provide.

There is a three-year limitation on being able to file a claim against an insurer about property damage. This date starts from when the hurricane or wind damage occurs. Failure to give notice in this time frame is grounds to have any lawsuit brought by the insured dismissed, however if an insured can show that the insurer was not prejudiced by this delay then the claim may still be able to be brought. Leben v. State Farm Florida Ins. Co., 93 So. 3d 528 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012). After an insured submits a proof of loss form, the insurance company must provide the insured with a notification of the claims process within 30 days. If an insured files suit and succeeds, then he/she may be awarded attorney's fees.

Important Steps

There are steps that you as the insured should take before and after a hurricane occurs. For example, you should have an itemized list of any items damage; estimates of the repair costs; photos of the damage property; receipts of the property that was damaged; and a copy of your insurance policy. Try to prevent any other damage to the property because after the storm is gone you are responsible for any other damage the property incurs. You will also have to provide a proof of loss statement. Be sure that you file your report with the insurance agency as soon as possible. Also, certain things will take time to show damage, such as mold, in such an event a policy holder is permitted to file supplemental claims within that 3-year time frame.

Problems With Your Claim?

If you find yourself in a dispute with your insurer, then contact Andrew J. Pascale today. Mr. Pascale can help you and your family recover the maximum amount of money under your homeowner's insurance policy.

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